‘Pretty Woman’ brings a new leading lady to Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. — When Jessie Davidson was growing up, her mom told her if “Pretty Woman” ever became a musical, Davidson would need to play Vivian.

Turns out, her mother knew best.

Davidson joined the national touring cast of “Pretty Woman” just three weeks ago. Last week, she made her performance debut in Memphis. On Tuesday, she started her second week of performances with the tour in Madison, Wis., as Vivian.

“It’s been in my sights before this even became a musical; I’ve always wanted to play the role,” she said.

Jessie Davidson plays Vivian in “Pretty Woman.” (Photo courtesy of “Pretty Woman”)

“Pretty Woman,” a 1980s film-to-stage adaptation, follows Vivian, a Hollywood Boulevard hooker hired by Edward, a businessman who needed an escort for the week to join him on professional functions. Soon enough, the two fall for one another, but before they can find their way back together, they need to find themselves.

Davidson has certainly found herself in this show.

“I think I relate to [Vivian] in a lot of ways. She’s very goofy and has big dreams. She also has that romantic side,” Davidson said. “[Vivian is] not afraid to be herself… and she carries that with her through the entire show, even as she comes into her skin more as the show progresses. The best part of her is she knows what she wants right away, and she’s not going to settle for less than that.”

Davidson said Vivian has a stronger point of view in the musical than she does in the movie. She said Vivian knows what she wants from the start, and is committed to not giving up on herself.

Other changes audiences may notice center around characters. For instance, Kit, Vivian’s best friend, has stronger character development. The Happy Man, played by Wisconsin native Kyle Taylor Parker, also has more of a presence in the stage version of the story.

But die-hard fans need not worry, according to Davidson.

“The show is a little different from the movie, but you obviously have some iconic moments from the movie that everyone’s waiting for,” she said. “No one will be disappointed in that way.”

Davidson said the musical additions take “Pretty Woman” to the next level. In fact, her favorite part is the opera scene for that exact reason.

“Most of the ensemble is on the stage at that time and it’s so visually beautiful. The music is beautiful,” she said.

Davidson noted the opera singer’s, Violetta played by Jade Amber, “booming soprano voice,” contrasts Broadway veteran Adam Pascal’s, who plays Edward, rock and roll ballad.

“The two of them together, it’s so beautiful. It’s really a magical scene and you start to see Edward and Vivian really fall in love,” Davidson said.

Love, after all, is what makes the world go ‘round, and it’s what keeps the cast and crew going while they’re on the road. Davidson said it has been an “honor” to join an “inviting” cast of people who exude “joy for life.” She said it’s easy to be excited about getting up to go to work every day, no matter what state the tour is visiting that week.

Her new co-workers make the constant movements of tour life worth it. Perhaps it’s even more fun to explore new places with friends.

Davidson noted she’s only driven through Wisconsin, but after only being in Madison, Wis. for a few days, she’s already been charmed by the boutiques on State St. Of course, she has plans to try cheese curds and check out local museums.

But the people of Madison have particularly captured her heart. She said opening night’s audience was happy, warm and supportive. She has many more nights to experience “Wisconsin nice.” “Pretty Woman” runs at the Overture Center for the Arts through Oct. 23.

Regardless of what night Wisconsinites are able to see the show, Davidson said she hopes every audience member is inspired to chase their dreams, just like Vivian, and just like her.

”Remember what your dreams are. [‘Pretty Woman’] reminds you that you don’t have to give up on them. There’s always a way,” Davidson said. “There’s always a way to the thing you want in your life.”

For ticket information, click here.