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  • Writer's pictureLaurence J. Sasso, Jr.

At PPAC - Pretty Woman is pretty darn good

Before the opening curtain for Pretty Woman: The Musical at the Providence Performing Arts Center on October 12, J. L. “Lynn” Singleton, PPAC’s President & CEO, took to the stage and welcomed a full house back to live performances for the first time in 19 months. He signaled the end of the Covid-19-induced hiatus and gratefully thanked the patrons for their return.

The fully masked and totally rapt audience was ready for the high energy and soaring spirits unleashed by the production.

Part confection and part fairy tale, and all-engaging entertainment, Pretty Woman captivates viewers from the opening moment to the cast’s exuberant choral finale.

With Tony-winner (Rent) Adam Pascal playing the lead role of Edward and “rising star” Olivia Valli appearing as Vivian, the company, which brought live musical theater back to the PPAC stage, is also launching the North American tour of the whirlwind romantic fable.

Based closely upon the hit 1990 movie Pretty Woman, which starred Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, the musical’s book was written by Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton with direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell. Original music and lyrics are by Grammy winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.

The plot has mogul Edward Lewis hire an ambivalent, yet irresistible prostitute to be his companion at events while he is at work trying to buy up a company and close it down to capture its assets.

What begins as a business arrangement soon grows into a romance despite the pair’s reservations and the obvious hurdles.

This show is a joy ride from start to finish with an irrepressible ensemble that sings, dances, smiles, and emotes with energy and panache, making the theater come alive in affirmation of the couple as they conquer the obstacles.

Pascal and Valli blend their complementary vocal styles seamlessly. Both have strong lovely voices that fill the hall. The entire cast demonstrates top level talent.

A scene in which Edward takes Vivian to the opera offers one of those transfixing theater moments that come too rarely despite the high quality of a show, a genuine lifting up of the spirit. Singing a duet from La Traviata Amma Osei and Christian Douglas engulf the audience in true operatic glory.

This well mixed, well meshed production seems the perfect vehicle for PPAC to say, “we’re back” and as so often before “we’re the right place to kick off a national tour.”

Pretty Woman: The Musical ends its run in Providence on October 16.

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