‘Pretty Woman’ stage musical cast arrives in Chicago

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The cast and creative team of “Pretty Woman: The Musical” pose for a photo during the welcome press conference at the Oriental Theatre, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. Pictured are: J.F. Lawton (from left), Jason Danieley, Orfeh, Paula Wagner, Jerry Mitchell, Steve Kazee, Samantha Barks, Eric Anderson, Kingsley Leggs and Kathleen Marshall. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The cast of the upcoming world premiere stage musical “Pretty Woman” — based on the iconic film starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts — arrived in Chicago Monday to begin rehearsals for the play, which begins previews March 13 at the Oriental Theatre.

On hand for a press conference at the theater (24 w. Randolph) were director Jerry Mitchell, who introduced his hugely talented cast of actors in main roles: Samantha Barks (as Vivian); Tony- and Grammy Award-winner Steve Kazee (as Edward); Tony Award nominee Orfeh (as Kit); Eric Anderson (as Mr. Thompson); Jason Danieley (as Philip Stuckey) and Kingsley Leggs (James Morse). Also present were Northwestern grad Kathleen Marshall (who had a small role in the film and is daughter to the late filmmaker Garry Marshall, director of the 1990 film and co-writer of the book for the musical); and the film’s screenwriter, J.F. Lawton (who co-wrote the musical with Garry Marshall.

Actors Steve Kazee and Samantha Barks, who star as Edward and Vivian in the upcoming world premiere of “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” pose for a photo during the welcome press conference for the production at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre, Monday, Feb. 26, 201

Actors Steve Kazee and Samantha Barks, who star as Edward and Vivian in the upcoming world premiere of “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” pose for a photo during the welcome press conference for the production at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

For Mitchell, the Chicago production marks a homecoming. He previously staged pre-Broadway world premieres here including “Gotta Dance,” “Kinky Boots” and “On Your Feet: The Story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan.”

“The audiences in Chicago are smart. They’re the closest thing to a New York audience that I can find anywhere else. When I go out of town [to premiere a show] I’m working on the show every day, and I listen to the audience. The audience helps lead me in the right direction. Reviews in New York on opening night don’t do you any good; the shows already opened. … I come here looking for constructive criticism so I can make the show better,” said Mitchell about his penchant for staging pre-Broadway productions of his musicals in Chicago.

“Pretty Woman” features a score by the Canadian team of Grammy-winner and Academy Award nominee Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. It’s all about rock and roll and love ballads — “just exceptional and contemporary,” Mitchell said.

Read more of what the cast and creative team had to say in the coming weeks here.

Tickets are available at broadwayinchicago.com.

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