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'Pretty Woman' tour brings Broadway back to the Fox Theatre

'Pretty Woman' tour brings Broadway back to the Fox Theatre

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Among the major St. Louis theater experiences is seeing a show at the Fox Theatre — an entertainment option that, for more than a year and a half, the pandemic made impossible. But the theater is poised to once again assume its role as a Broadway showcase when “Pretty Woman: The Musical” takes the stage Nov. 16.

Adam Pascal and Olivia Valli star in the show based on the 1990 film that made Julia Roberts a star and revived Richard Gere’s career. Although New York critics weren’t particularly enthusiastic about the stage adaptation, it’s the kind of family-friendly show that the Fox has thrived on.

And as the first offering in the theater’s 2021-22 Broadway Series, “Pretty Woman: The Musical” promises a return to bright lights and big crowds after a prolonged period of darkness.

“Our last touring Broadway show was ‘The Band’s Visit,’ which ended in early March (2020),” says John O’Brien, director of programming for the Fox. “So it’s been a long time.”

O’Brien says it was “heartbreaking” to have to cancel the remaining 2019-20 Broadway Series shows, which included “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Cats” and “Hamilton.”

“We did kind of luck out,” he says, in that it wasn’t necessary to close a show that hadn’t finished its run.

“There were some cities where they had to shut down a production, and the set was just sitting on that stage,” O’Brien says. “But we were right in between everything, just days away from (continuing the season with) ‘Charlie.’”

The uncertainties of the pandemic thwarted attempts to update programming, O’Brien says.

“It was just this beast that kept growing,” he says. “Every time things would fall through, I would pick up the pieces and rebook things and have a whole new scheduled scenario — and then that would fall apart. And then I’d have another scheduled scenario, and that would fall apart.”

A requirement of welcoming touring shows back to the Fox is that the theater, which seats more than 4,000 people, operate at full capacity.

“We’re implementing a lot of different health and safety protocols, because we want to make sure that everyone who comes to the Fox feels comfortable,” O’Brien says. “For instance, most of the touring companies will be fully vaccinated, and masks are required in the theater. Beyond that, we’re moving toward digital ticketing and cashless transactions.”

The theater also requires audience members to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test, along with a verbal health screening.

Upcoming in the Broadway Series are “Cats” (Dec. 21-Jan. 2), “The Prom” (Jan. 25-Feb. 6), “Mean Girls” (Feb. 15-27), “My Fair Lady” (March 22-April 3), “Hamilton” (April 12-May 15) and “The Lion King” (June 1-18).

“The pieces kind of fell into place,” O’Brien says.

What “Pretty Woman: The Musical” • When Nov. 16-28; performance times vary • Where Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard • How much $29-$115; proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test required • More info metrotix.com

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