An iconic movie bids to turn out to be “My Magnificent Lady of the Evening,” however isn’t fairly so loverly.
When the 1990 movie comedy “Rather Lady” catapulted Julia Roberts to stardom, it became widely reported that Disney and gradual director Garry Marshall had tweaked J.F. Lawton’s downbeat prostitute/john story “Three Thousand” into an opulent rom-com, to the income of all concerned. Its most up-to-date incarnation sanitizes the story fully. With anything archaic or sensual systematically eradicated, “Rather Lady: The Musical” goes all-in on myth, casting two sizzling abilities, Samantha Barks and Andy Karl, as bland, actual folks singing actual Bryan Adams-Jim Vallance tunes with nothing fundamental at stake. Stubbornly inconsequential, it’s a morally uplifting fairy story of which each person, younger and extinct alike, could maybe additionally additionally be skeptical.
The Lawton-Marshall libretto mainly sticks to the screenplay line by line, joke by joke. Multimillionaire corporate raider Edward Lewis (Karl) hops in a designate-fresh 1989 Lotus Esprit and, in an impulse presumably supreme Hugh Grant could maybe additionally show, whisks streetwalker Vivian Ward (Barks) from Hollywood Blvd. to his Beverly Hills resort penthouse. A $300 evening of whoopie turns into a $three,000 week of companionship among the many niteries, nation golf equipment and opera houses of the gargantuan-neatly off, and to listen to the script describe it, each and each rescues the different: He pulls her out of The Lifestyles, whereas she teaches him to Essentially Feel.
Magnificent ample. The movie asked us to prefer Vivian’s degradation totally on religion anyway, and presumably even “Three Thousand” by no manner aspired to the gritty detail of “Klute” or “Leaving Las Vegas.” Nonetheless this version takes the absence of realism even additional. The intrepid, self-assured Vivian, in miniskirt and thigh-highs, could maybe additionally without peril give the affect she’s simply a chirpy flight attendant caught working one of those good buy airlines.
As Barks hops onto a bench to alternate Mary-and-Rhoda wisecracks with BFF Kit (Orfeh), surrounded by “Guys and Dolls” goofballs, the conception that this winsome gamine is a intercourse worker on the prowl is preposterous. (The movie’s debate over whether or no longer to prefer on a pimp, and the roughnecks who threaten to work the females over, are pointedly neglected.) No hooker’s ever been merrier, gaily skipping finally of Edward’s room with a cushion for her knees in whisper to construct the acquaintance of his zipper, although as we wander to shaded it’s more seemingly she’s there tying his shoelaces. She says she does “the whole lot as adverse to kiss on the mouth,” but kissability is the one carnal trait you’d bet she possessed.
Then again, director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell and crew toss a determined gloss over this G-rated version of Hollywood nights, with manufacturing numbers and ensemble performing performed with exaggerated musical-comedy snap. The boulevard is cheery as a carnival, and without reference to a attention-grabbing between-scenes silhouette motif from David Rockwell (sets) and Kenneth Posner and Philip S. Rosenberg (lights), there’s little sense of Vivian and Edward’s transferring between opposing worlds. So sanitized is the sphere fabric for our safety that the dumpster discovery of “Skinny Marie,” beaten to loss of life, gets a ho-hum reaction, tastelessly followed by “Elated Man” (Eric Anderson), our singing-dancing ragbag emcee, genially assuring us that we could maybe additionally goal easy “by no manner terror — let hope and religion encompass you…. Don’t quit until your needs trust found you.” Repeat that to Marie.
As for the Cinderella memoir, what’s to rescue? With Vivian already a wholesome cockeyed optimist, her “outdated to” scenes factual play up her unfriendly mouth and loud nostril-blowing. Nonetheless don the famend cocktail costume or that iconic crimson costume (recreated factual so by Gregg Barnes) and she’s as poised as Kate Middleton. No Galahad has to rescue her from grabby authorized suited Philip (Jason Danieley, maxi-smarm) — she’s obtained the moves. The more sangfroid Vivian shows, the emptier her pickle turns into, no longer to mention her lyrics about aching to be “anywhere however right here.”
For his fragment, Karl’s warmth belies his efforts to tell a soulless money machine and folks-individual, although he pulled that off bigtime in “Groundhog Day.” His “I need” song says he craves “Freedom” (which must imply “affection” or “goal,” since wealth is the supreme sign to freedom there is), but his claims of being horrified lack conviction. Meeting Vivian, he soliloquizes, “There’s one thing about her/ She’s charming there’s no question,” and there’s no question there’ll be no need for a persona reversal. He’s healed already.
There’s additionally no question about anybody’s suggestions-role, since the nation-tinged pop numbers continuously whisper each and each singer’s subtext. Though the lyrics teem with cliche, the solid affords its all to promote them, beginning with the vocally confident Barks and Karl. Orfeh’s Kit — all gospel-friendly pipes and Jersey Shore attitude — is utterly tangential to the memoir however welcome in every look. Anderson doubles neatly as the supple Elated Man and the coolest, uptight resort manager, although the latter would back us better with a clever personality song than a cheesy tango number with his bellboys.
One moment in act one is at odds with the total weightlessness. Downstage center, Barks gazes at Edward’s TV right through her champagne-and-strawberries “carpet picnic.” Moodily lit by Posner and Rosenberg, she faces entrance, and it is possible you’ll maybe maybe additionally read the whole lot on her face you’d keep a query to a factual casualty of imply streets to feel: effort, terror, remorse — a fleeting survey of the emotional truth of Barks’ Eponine within the movie version of “Les Miserables.” More of that will maybe maybe presumably additionally goal no longer construct Vivian any prettier, however it completely could maybe additionally render her, and the reveal around her, rather more truthful and affecting.