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Edited and Published by Robert W. McDowell

April 21, 2022 Issue
PART 3 (April 20, 2022)

A FREE Weekly E-mail Newsletter Covering Theater, Dance, Music, and Film in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill/Carrboro Area of North Carolina Since April 2001.


Pretty Woman Is a Real Crowd-Pleaser: Yeah, Yeah, YEAH!

Pretty Woman stars Adam Pascal and Olivia Valli as Edward Lewis and Vivian Ward (photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

It is a story as old as time: A worldly wise and well-off older man meets a naive and penniless younger woman -- and transforms her into a lady! Just a few examples include the ancient Roman poet Ovid's tale of Pygmalion and Galatea, Charles Perrault's 1697 French folk tale Cinderella, and Irish playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play Pygmalion, which Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe adapted into their hit 1956 Broadway and 1958 West End musical My Fair Lady. (The latest tour of My Fair Lady will play the Durham Performing Arts Center on May 3-8.)

The award-winning and perennially popular 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman, penned by J.F. Lawton, directed by Garry Marshall, and starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts as jaded middle-aged gazillionaire New York corporate raider Edward Lewis and spunky twentysomething Hollywood streetwalker Vivian Ward, a high-school dropout who immigrated to Tinseltown from Milledgeville, GA, provides a new twist on the old formula when Vivian makes a better man out of Edward after he introduces her to the high life that he and his posh friends and sleazy business associates live -- at the expense of less-powerful people whose struggling companies they buy to shut down and sell off their assets, with no concern about how their ruthless profiteering affects those companies' work forces and the communities in which the companies reside.

Kyle Taylor Parker stars as Happy Man the tour guide in Pretty Woman: The Musical (photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

Pretty Woman: The Musical, with music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance and book by Marshall and Lawton, plays now through Sunday, April 24th, at the Durham Performing Arts Center, as part of its 2021-22 Truist Broadway at DPAC series. The show stars Olivia Valli as Vivian and Adam Pascal as Edward. Briskly directed and crisply choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, the 2021-22 tour of Pretty Woman: The Musical features a crackerjack cast, lively accompaniment by a six-piece orchestra conducted by music director and keyboardist Daniel Klintworth, soaring sets by David Rockwell, and dazzling costumes by Gregg Barnes. This 2018 Chicago, 2018 Broadway, and 2020 West End musical, which like the 1990 film takes its name from the #1-rated 1964 song Oh, Pretty Woman, recorded and co-written by the legendary singer/guitarist Roy Orbison, is a real crowd-pleaser. Yeah, yeah, YEAH!

Olivia Valli is a delight as a vivacious 1980s version of a Hooker with a Heart of Gold. The granddaughter of The Four Seasons' lead singer Frankie Valli and his first wife, Mary Delgado, Olivia Valli made her Off-Broadway debut playing her own grandmother in the 2919 New World Stages/Stage I production of Jersey Boys. (Jersey Boys will play DPAC on April 29-May 1.)

Pretty Woman: The Musical stars Amma Osei (left) stars as Violetta in La Traviata (photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

Valli is terrific as Vivian, acting, singing and dancing right into the audience's heart. Understudy Brent Thiessen, who substituted for Adam Pascal for Tuesday's opening-night performance, proved to be a great scene partner for Valli. He played Edward with just the right mixture of Big Apple bravado and a dawning awareness that as one of the most ruthless and ever-acquisitive wolves of Wall Street, he might be missing out on the most important things in life.

Kudos also go to Jessica Crouch as Vivian's crusty roommate, fellow streetwalker, and sex-work mentor Kit De Luca; Matthew Stocke as Edward's sleazy lawyer Philip Stuckey; Amma Osei as the courtesan Violetta in the La Traviata production to which Edward takes Vivian; and Christian Brailsford as the shipyard executive David Morse, the beleaguered CEO of Edward's latest hostile-takeover target.

Jessica Crouch (left) and Olivia Valli star as Kit De Luca and and Vivian Ward (photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

Trent Soyster steals every scene in which he appears as Giulio the light-footed day bellhop. But it is Kyle Taylor Parker who steals the show as the irrepressible Happy Man, who peddles maps to tourists on Hollywood Blvd., and the frosty Barnard "Barney" Thompson, the manager of the Beverly Wilshire, who keeps an eagle eye out for undesirables.

When Edward reserves the penthouse suite for himself and a lady of the evening, Mr. Thompson is none-too-friendly, but his iciness toward Vivian thaws as he gets to know her better. Parker is a hoot in both roles, and his dual performances are worth the price of admission all by themselves!

Olivia Valli and Adam Pascal (center) star as Vivian Ward and Edward Lewis (photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance, Garry Marshall, and J.F. Lawton's PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL (In Person at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday), directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell and presented as part of Truist Broadway at DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham). TRAILER: 2021-22 TRUIST BROADWAY AT DPAC SEASON: THE PRESENTER/VENUE:,,,, and DIRECTIONS: PARKING: DPAC COVID-19 REQUIREMENTS: THE TOUR:,,,,, and TOUR CAST: TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: TICKETS: $30 and up, plus taxes and fees. Call 800-982-2787 or click here to buy tickets. GROUPS (10+ tickets): 919-680-2787,, and INFORMATION: 919-680-2787 or

EDITOR'S NOTE: Robert W. McDowell has written arts and entertainment articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, Triangle Arts and Entertainment, and Triangle Review, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events in the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill/Carrboro area of North Carolina. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing and typing SUBSCRIBE-TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE-FFL in the Subject: line.)


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