By KATHIE RALEIGH
PROVIDENCE – As soon as the orchestra started playing, the audience at the Providence Performing Arts Center responded with applause.
Shut down by COVID for more than a year and a half, the audience was ready for the official start Tuesday night of the North American tour of “Pretty Woman: The Musical.” From those first notes to the last, this show is a winner.
The score is listen-worthy rock and pop written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. The sets and lighting are Broadway quality, and the costumes – remember Vivian Ward’s dresses from the eponymous movie? – are fabulous.
Best of all, the cast delivers stellar performances, from the stars right through everyone in the chorus.
The story is the same as the 1990 film about Edward Lewis, the hard-nosed businessman who falls in love with Vivian, a business woman herself, in the so-called oldest profession.
Playing them are actors with recognizable names: Adam Pascal and Olivia Valli, granddaughter of Frankie Valli of Four Seasons and “Jersey Boys” fame.
Pascal’s credentials start with originating the part of Roger in “Rent” on Broadway and in film, but expand to multiple roles on Broadway and in film, plus three solo albums. The longer he’s on stage, the more we appreciate how he makes this role his own, and how good he is with the score.
The show’s producer, Paula Wagner, predicted that Valli “is going to be a real breakthrough star,” and that isn’t just hype. She sings well and with feeling. As an actor, she can be endearing – or funny, capitalizing on some good comic timing.
The supporting cast has a surfeit of talent, led by Kyle Taylor Parker in multiple roles; from Happy Man to hotel manager, he exudes enough personality to single-handedly fill the PPAC auditorium. Jessica Crouch has all the right attitude and a powerhouse voice as Kit De Luca, Vivan’s streetwise best friend.
But it’s Matthew Vincent Taylor as bellhop Giulio who expresses so much, often hilariously, without saying a word, and Amma Osei, whose vocals as Violetta are not just beautiful but used here in a startlingly theatrical moment.
The story and the happy ending make this a feel-good show, arguably what we crave right now. We’re left smiling, even if behind a mask.
Performances of “Pretty Woman” continue through Saturday at the Providence Performing Arts Center, 220 Weybosset St. Tickets are $94-$20 online at ppacri.org, by phone at (401) 421-ARTS (2787) or at the box office in the theater.