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Not So ‘Pretty’

Horrible review after horrible review on Broadway, and those reviews of ‘Pretty Woman: the Musical’ were justified.

STAGE “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” The lines from the film version of Pretty Woman are iconic. You’ll quickly remember our lovely Julia stopping by a Rodeo Drive boutique with arms full of shopping bags where she had been shunned, while the title song plays in the background.

Pretty Woman, the Musical: Big mistake. Big. Huge.

Also: Billy Elliot, Beetlejuice, Sunset Boulevard, The Lion King, Legally Blonde, Spamalot, The Producers, Waitress. On Wikipedia there’s a list. A very long list of movies morphing into stage musicals.

Perhaps the first was 1961’s Carnival!, based on the 1953 movie Lili. (The adaptation has its charms. Years ago, BYU staged a watered-down version.)

The trend has turned Broadway play listings increasingly approaching the library of a streaming service. Many of this century’s biggest Broadway hits were inspired by popular movies. And some of the biggest Broadway flops — shows that lost tens of millions of dollars — were also inspired by popular movies.
Some have excelled: Billy Elliot. Some are dismal failures: Pretty Woman, the Musical.

Eccles audiences will soon be subjected to another misfire, the musical adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire. The New York Times claimed it “ends up cowering in the original film’s shadow.”

The wunderkinds behind Pretty Woman replicated the film script, scene by scene, along with the entirety of Julia’s wardrobe, and inserted insipid songs. Songs that belong on the D List (with Kathy Griffin). There is also zero chemistry between the two leads: Ellie Baker as Vivian Ward and handsome Chase Wolfe as Edward Lewis. Lewis excels in the role and has a lovely, brightly powerful voice. Baker is adequate, with Broadway-tour-passable vocals. And she’s definitely not ugly — that would be a reference to the musical, not Baker.

As seen in the new version of Company, gender role reversal is a newer laudable trend. Even way back on film Cinderella became Cinderfella, with Jerry Lewis! Why not Pretty Woman becoming Handsome Man?

► artsaltlake.org, 801-355-ARTS for tickets to future Eccles productions

LITTLE SCREEN Studly Nicholas Galitzine goes from royal gay prince to royal gay lover. Following the massive success of Prime Video’s Red, White & Royal Blue, Nicholas makes a royal return in the Starz historical drama miniseries Mary & George, based on the 2017 nonfiction The King’s Assassin. It looked promising as one of the most highly anticipated shows of 2024. We’ve devoured the trailer with brief scenes of Nicholas seducing King James and having sex with a few other queer characters. It premiered April 5.

► Starz.com

STAGE Bianca Del Rio is Dead Inside. Bianca is also everyone’s favorite glamorous drag clown. She’s bringing her irreverent half-scripted, half-improvised comedy show to the city’s largest theater. We’ll meet in the flesh Wendy Ho, a self-proclaimed female drag queen. Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race will laugh our faces off, while simultaneously wondering how it’s possible to be that vulgar.

► April 30, Artsaltlake.org, 801-355-ARTS

DRAG Here a little, there a little. A little drag and a lot more drag as it takes on downtown venues, albeit a bit behind other major cities where drag has fully blossomed. Much to the enjoyment of presidential dropout Ron DeSantis. What was SCOTUS thinking when it declined to allow the enforcement of a Florida law that banned children from attending drag shows? Most likely, “Fuck off, Ronnie.”

► Every Sunday, third Friday, and a few other scattered dates

A FIRST At age 31, Giselle Byrd is executive director of the Theater Offensive, one of the nation’s oldest and most-decorated queer hubs of performing arts. She becomes the first Black trans woman to lead a major American theater company. The Boston troupe will be placing a greater emphasis on “presenting art created for and by queer and trans folks of color,” as Byrd maintains.

► thetheateroffensive.org

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