Carnegie Mellon University
June 08, 2019

"Pretty Woman" Cast Discusses the Making of a Musical

By Heidi Opdyke

Pam Wigley
  • College of Fine Arts
  • 412-268-1047
Julie Mattera
  • Marketing and Communications
  • 412-268-1151

The Carnegie Mellon University community attended a talkback with members of "Pretty Woman: The Musical." They included producer Paula Wagner and actor Matthew Stocke, who are both graduates of Carnegie Mellon.

On the eve of the 2019 Tony Awards, the cast of "Pretty Woman: The Musical" gave members of the Carnegie Mellon University community an inside look at the making of the production.

Some 150 alumni, faculty, staff and students were in attendance of Saturday's matinee performance, followed by a talkback session with the cast and producer Paula Wagner, a 1969 graduate of CMU. The talk was moderated by School of Drama Head Peter Cooke.

The show is based on the 1990 movie directed by the late Garry Marshall, who co-wrote the musical. Since it opened last summer, "Pretty Woman: The Musical" has been breaking box-office records.

"There was a musicality to the film," said Wagner, a member of CMU's board of trustees. "Garry wanted to make this into a musical for 25 years, and I wanted to help him realize that dream."

Wagner, whose Broadway credits include "The Heiress" and "Grace" said when a show opens, "You think the producer's job is over, but that's actually when it begins." The show will kickoff a national tour in 2020.

Matthew Stocke, a 1995 alumnus of CMU's School of Drama, is an actor in the show and called himself a proud Tartan.

"Every audition I've ever gone to, I've never been the most talented, the best singer or dancer, actor or anything, but there's nobody in that room who has the training that I got, and that's an amazing thing to take with you throughout a career," Stocke said.

Andy Karl, who played the role of Edward Lewis, spoke about reimagining the role that Richard Gere made famous.

"We all know the movie, but you have to go back and read that script and see what they're saying," Karl said.

Jillian Mueller played the role of Vivian Ward.

"I'm never going to be an exact cutout of Julia Roberts," Mueller said. "No matter what. It's going to come out a little different. Naturally you have your own take on anything."

Wagner said Carnegie Mellon has done well with its arts program not only because of the students and faculty but also support from senior administration and Cooke's leadership.

"The fact that it's an environment where the arts can flourish, along with computer science, business, engineering and robotics — it brings the world together in a unique way," Wagner said.

The Carnegie Mellon community is in New York this weekend celebrating the Tony Awards, where the Excellence in Theatre Education Award will be presented. The award was co-founded in 2014 by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon to recognize top K-12 drama teachers and to celebrate arts education. CMU alumnus Billy Porter will recognize this year's winner, Madeline Michel, during the live broadcast on CBS beginning at 8 p.m. ET, June 9 from Radio City Music Hall in New York.  Five CMU alumni are nominated for 11 Tony Awards.

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