'Pretty Woman' star Rachael Wooding on bringing 'a little bit of me' to Kit
Rachael Wooding had spent 16 months away from Pretty Woman: The Musical before theatres reopened this summer. Pretty Woman played at the Piccadilly Theatre for a month from February 2020 before theatres were forced to shutdown.
"Everyone is so happy to be back and in a theatre," said Wooding about returning to the role of Kit in Pretty Woman now at the Savoy Theatre. "I'm still finding Kit but there's definitely a little bit of me in there as well."
Based on the classic film starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, Pretty Woman: The Musical follows businessman Edward Lewis, who hires escort Vivian Ward for company, only to form an unexpected relationship. After a Broadway run starring Samantha Barks, Rodeo Drive has now come to London, with Wooding as Kit, Vivian's friend and roommate.
We spoke to Wooding about the challenges in returning to a production after a year away, as well as the camaraderie between the Pretty Woman: The Musical cast. There's even talks of a Pretty Woman: The Musical UK tour too, which is big news... no... huge.
Pretty Woman: The Musical is at the Savoy Theatre.
Pretty Woman: The Musical tickets are on sale now.
How is it to approach a role like Kit that's in such a popular film? What are your influences, and how do you make the role different than the movie?
Before you start rehearsals, you think of all these things. But naturally, in the process of being in rehearsals, being in something new and finding stuff within the room, you naturally find your flow and your feel. You have certain moments that are really important and you know that you need to hit those marks and get those rhythms within your voice for the storyline. As long as I hit the XYZ, the audience will get what they want.
We were open for four weeks at the Piccadilly, so we didn't get chance to really play into the character as much.
Pretty Woman: The Musical opened in February 2020 and then Covid happened. How was it coming into the production over a year since the last performance?
Yeah we were going back to the beginning! I walked into the room and we did the big dance numbers just to make sure everybody knew. But scene wise, me and Aimie (Atkinson) [who plays Vivian] didn't even have a script. My script was at the Piccadilly and got moved to the Savoy, so I didn't even have one when rehearsals began again.
Aimie and I said let's just do it and see what happens. It was literally in there, not even thinking about it, just coming about. It was really nice, it didn't feel like work! It was so weird. If I'd have thought about it, it'd have been more stressful.
Pretty Woman The Musical moved from the Piccadilly to the Savoy, how does it feel performing in a new venue?
As long as we fit within the space we've got, it works. Technically for our creative team, it must have been a nightmare. But there's always been talks of possibly going on tour with Pretty Woman: The Musical, so it'll fit and it'll work with what it is. We play what we play within our little box. It's weird how normal the different becomes. But this is right now.
Was there a difference with going from socially distanced to full capacity?
We ended up with around ten days of socially-distanced audiences so that was weird. The audiences that did come out wanted to be there so much, so we just felt so loved anyway and were so happy to be there. Now, it's full audiences night after night.
We've got audiences for theatres, friends who want to see Pretty Woman: The Musical before their respective West End shows start, people that love the film and then hen dos and so it can be raucous. Then you've got Danny (Mac) and Aimie fans, so it's like a massive crosssection all the time. You see the women ready and by the end, everyone is up and clapping and loving it!
Coming together after a year away, you and the cast must get on really well?
I've been in this industry a long time, and I'm one of the eldest in the company, but this Pretty Woman: The Muscial is one of the nicest companies I've ever worked with. For me, I work closely with Bob and Aimie and I couldn't ask for better people. We just click and it's a joy. They make my job easy.
Do you have a favourite moment in the show, whether you're on stage for it or off stage?
My favourite moment is "On A Night Like Tonight," it's an amazing set choreographed piece. And I just love listening to Aimie Atkinson sing "I Can't Go Back."
Who would have coped better in the pandemic, you or Kit? What would Kit have been doing?
I think Kit would have just gone mental and had a massive party for 16 months! She'd have had a really good time. But for me, I've got a family and finding the balance between doing what I love and being a parent will always be constantly like you're doing one better than the other. Kit would have had a better party.
When the pandemic began, I was just so happy to be at home. Previews, rehearsals, and tech mean you're constantly at work. I'd been starved of that time, as rehearsals and tech are always the hardest mentally. When the show is open and you are in the run, you can balance your time out better.
Pretty Woman is typified as one of the iconic rom coms, but are there any other Hollywood romcoms you'd love to see on stage?
A Notebook musical is happening! It's premiering in Chicago before potentially coming to Broadway.
Wow!...I love the love story. All the 1940s and the radiograms and the sounds, it would be so good. I'm here for it. What else? Could you imagine Anchorman: The Musical, that would be very funny!
Photo credit: Rachael Wooding in Pretty Woman: The Musical (Photo by Helen Maybanks)
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