WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE? Piccadilly Theatre RUNTIME: 135 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)
WHEN? 17/2, press night 1/3 booking to 2/1/21
Perhaps the biggest surprises here are that it’s taken quite so long for the 1990 film romcom to reach the stage and that its music and lyrics would be co-written by middle-of-the-road rocker Bryan Adams.
- Read on for reasons why Mac and Atkinson make an unlikely but endearing couple
The film starred Julia Roberts and Richard Gere and its plot revolved around a Hollywood prostitute who is hired by a wealthy businessman pursuing a financial deal.
Three decades later and there is no gender swap to make it more relevant and instead the musical repeats admittedly memorable verbal scenes from the movie.
Mac and Atkinson (SIX, Arts Theatre) are the best things about it and, although they don’t especially look like a real-life couple at first glance, they do develop a believable chemistry.
The score is pleasant but workmanlike with the most memorable song being I Can’t Go Back as the titular pretty woman realises how much she has been changed by her experience.
Mac’s cut-throat businessman Edward Lewis still finds an unlikely redemption in the arms of call girl Vivian Ward. We had our doubts about how convincing he would be in such a role but both leads were impressive. We admired Atkinson in SIX and here she gets to exercise her vocal prowess.
One of the triumphs of the musical is just how funny Bob Harms is in multiple roles including characters described in the programme as Happy Man and Mr Thompson.
We were at an early preview of this show and it’s interesting that we were joined by a predominantly female audience who were clearly revelling in the nostalgia of the show’s celluloid history but also finding empowerment in Vivian’s story.
We won’t be clamouring for Adams to write another musical but will certainly hope to see Mac and Atkinson back in more leading theatre roles soon.