UPDATE from Broadway to National, December 23, 2021:
Despite strong precautions, groundbreaking cases of COVID-19 were identified within the fully vaccinated tour company of PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL before heading to Washington, DC. As the affected business members complete their recovery – and to ensure the well-being and safety of our guests, actors and team –all performances of PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at the National Theater (December 28, 2021 – January 2, 2022) have been canceled. We apologize for the disappointment and inconvenience caused. Ticket holders are now contacted with a variety of options, including refunds, and should contact their point of sale with any questions.
Interview with the star of the show by Bob Ashby as originally posted on December 21, 2021:
The rising star who plays Vivian talks about how the musical has been overhauled since it aired on Broadway and how her character will be different from the movie.
The national tour company of Pretty Woman: The Musical comes to the DC National Theater for eight performances from December 28, 2021 to January 2, 2022. Olivia Valli, the rising star who plays Vivian, spoke with DCMTA’s Bob Ashby about how the show has been revised since it aired on Broadway and how her character will be different from that of Julia Roberts in the film. This interview has been edited for length and flow.
Bob Ashby: You play a role made famous by Julia Roberts. How is your Vivian different from hers?
Olivia Valli: I’ll give it more Jersey style. I’m a naturally witty person and love to use humor to face or get through difficult situations, so that’s what I lean towards. I also like trying to see the good in people, and that’s something I focus on, because the writing of the show is different from the movie, and so is the direction. Vivian on the show is more of an open-hearted person, even though she finds herself in dire and unhappy circumstances with her job. Jerry mitchell [the director] always reminds me to see hope rather than come down so fast. You will see more than one character who chooses hope.
One of the songs on the show is about Vivian’s story, how she got into her job. Beyond that, what sort of backstory do you envision for the character?
The backstory you’re going to get for Vivian is a not-so-sweet reminder of her work. [prostitution] is not always a choice. There is an awareness of this. Five minutes after the start of the show, she begins to sing “Anywhere but Here”. She just wants to go out, she wants to do it differently, she wants better for herself. She doesn’t know how, but she’s going to get there, and that’s what drives her throughout the show. From the jump, you see a go-getter who really believes that she wants better but she doesn’t necessarily see it for herself yet. She just knows innately that she wants it.
Do you think Vivian sees her sex work as some kind of worthwhile job, or is it something that she feels the need to be saved from?
I think for Vivian she’s more along the same lines that it might be OK for Kit. [the secondary female lead] or for someone else, but not for her. I don’t think there is a judgment attached to it; I just think she knows she’s unhappy and wants to move on.
How do you think the songs in the show shed a different light on Vivian and the other characters, compared to the movie?
Since it’s theater, it’s going to be bigger and more over the top, but if anything, the musical tends to take a more in-depth perspective for each character than it might have been in the movie. As for Edouard [the male lead], you start to see the wheels turn immediately when he meets her: what is it about this girl who keeps finding herself attracted? What is it about Vivian that she may be depressed but hasn’t gone out – like when she is turned down in a store for the first time, or when she sings ” I Can’t Go Back ”? Or you’ll see the backstory on Kit which is really special because rather than having a shot in time like in the movie you get a full backstory. You’re starting to understand where people are coming from years ago, and I think that makes the show more accessible. In all situations, whether it’s Edward or Vivian or Kit or the Happy Man / Mr. Thompson, you resonate with these characters in one way or another.
Is the show set in the film period or has it been updated?
It’s set in the late 80s, early 90s, just like the movie.
Given that the gender roles and perceptions of sex workers are different today than they were 30 years ago, how is this factored into this version?
After the Broadway run, the A pretty woman The team cut the fat on what worked and didn’t, and updated much of the book. This book focuses more on choosing Vivian – and when she isn’t treated well, she says, “I don’t want to be treated like this.” She doesn’t care about money, or status, or the offer of a better life. She wants to be valued and respected first and foremost, regardless of her field of activity, so she is ready to go no matter what. There’s a point on the show where she refuses the money, the $ 3,000, and the scene really emphasizes “never treat me like that again” – that you treat me like it’s unacceptable, it doesn’t matter who I am or what I do.
It’s interesting to see how the show is viewed. I’ve passed people in different towns where it’s “Oh, this is the prostitute show”, but in other towns it’s “Oh, this is A pretty woman, love story, romance, Cinderella story. While we think we’ve made a lot of progress in changing the perception of sex work, we haven’t. In a lot of places we’re still a little bit stuck in that late 80s / early 90s mentality.
From what I’ve read of the Broadway production in 2018, it had an average box office and a tough reaction from critics. From what I’m hearing now, there have been a few tweaks to improve what may not have worked so well in New York City.
We were just in Chicago, and I was a little nervous about it because that was where the pre-Broadway race was, and it didn’t work out very well there, because that’s what. that it is. They liked it, but there were still a lot of issues. A huge testament to the changes in the show is that when we made it to Chicago on tour they absolutely loved it, and they thought the updates were great. It’s better, it doesn’t feel as extreme, it feels like a real, grounded story. And this is what we have had time and time again. It’s just that the subject of the musical can sometimes be tricky for some people. Overall, people are happy with the changes which makes me excited as I confidently think this is a really solid story that people can go to and escape the horrors of the world and get away from it all. have fun with.
In this story, like so many over the years, we look at a rich man and a beautiful woman, the traditional currency of what you might call transactional relationships. So, can you speculate, if Edward isn’t that rich, or Vivian is just an average-looking woman in that area, does the story come out any differently?
I think the story would be the same because Vivian is not influenced by money or status; she has to make money or she will get kicked out on the streets of LA, and the streets of LA are tough. There’s a line that says, “We could have died tonight.” She is very aware of the very difficult circumstances, but she always refuses the money because she finds herself and she finds her voice. She doesn’t care who you are, she’s going to demand respect.
It’s the story of two people who fall in love, and I think Edward would still have fallen in love with her crazy nature in the sense that she sees the world through this new pair of eyes, and she hasn’t. afraid to say no, and she’s not afraid to challenge people. But she also chooses to see the good in people. This story, especially our side of the story, emphasizes falling in love with a person’s heart. Two people who don’t necessarily match their world – Edward doesn’t quite match hers, Vivian doesn’t match hers – create theirs, and that’s kind of what happens in a relationship anyway – you get together. with one person, and you create your own safe world of mutual respect, admiration and love. I think it would have happened the same way because these are two people who fell in love with each other’s hearts rather than their material or external circumstances.
Why should I or someone come to see this show?
Because as much as it’s a Cinderella story, it’s an outsider story. I think we’ve all felt like underdogs in one way or another, whether you’re being judged on what you do or the money you make, your gender, or the way you dress, or even, in Edward’s world, you are treated differently if you are not the rich billionaire. I think we’ve all felt trampled on or exploited or deserve more respect than we get, and it’s a story to watch someone find their voice, and anyone can resonate with that, because somehow we all do that whether big and grand or more subtle we’ve all felt like, okay, I’m going to rise above my situation and realize my dream, and i will go and change, because i deserve basic human decency. So I think the people who felt like the underdogs can come and empathize with that and go, damn it, I’m going to support these people because I’ve been there.
Pretty Woman: The Musical performs from December 28, 2021 to January 2, 2022, at the National Theater, 1321 Pennsylvania NW, Washington DC. Tickets ($ 50 to $ 110) can be purchased in line. The show lasts two hours 30 minutes, including an intermission.
COVID Security: The National Theater’s vaccination and masking policies are here.