Interviews From Another Zero:

Chris Manuel, part of the ensemble of Pretty Woman The Musical and Understudy of the Roles of Edward and Philip.

"There is so much that goes on behind the scenes, the hair and wig department, wardrobe, the dressers, and the crew that make it happen... there's a lot that goes into it and we hope that people appreciate it when they come out and have a good time".

Chris Manuel part of the Ensemble of Pretty Woman The Musical
Self-taught in Spanish, also speaks Portuguese and Italian. Raised in Connecticut with a heavy population of Spanish speakers, Spanish actually is his third language and curiously so, it is the language that he better speaks now out of those three.

Chris Manuel is part of the ensemble of Pretty Woman The Musical, currently on tour and with performances in San Diego from July 26 to 31. He also understudies the roles of millionaire hotie Edward Lewis and his unpleasant sidekick, Philip Stuckey. We had the opportunity to talk to him and get all the details of his participation in the musical and the tour.

How did Pretty Woman The Musical come into your world? "My agent sent me the audition information and I knew right away. I listened to the soundtrack and right away I knew I was going to do whatever needed to be done to book it. It just really spoke to me, the songs were all written by Bryan Adamsm the tone of it and the mood of the whole show, I listened to the Broadway cast recording, and it just really spoke to me. I submitted my primary audition for one character and when they called me back in, they called me back to understudy the lead role of Edward Lewis and that is what I ended up booking. It was a real blessing and right out of the pandemic. I, like a lot of other actors, was kind of worried about what opportunities were going to be out there and getting back to work, how many shows were going to go back, and whether they would stay open, so I was really grateful to get this opportunity".

Being a part of the company since the first day, which is not that long ago since they started rehearsals in September, I asked Chris how has the response been in the different cities while still navigating in these unknown times, going back to live theatre. 

"We've always had a great response to the show and when we opened in Providence it was jammed packed, pretty much sold out the whole run we were there, and then going forward it was always very positive, people love the show, they have a lot of fun coming to it which, this type of show I think was important coming out of the pandemic as well just because it was a break from all the negative feel and anxiety, fear that people were going through. It provided a nice outlet for that because it is just a feel-good show you know? you do not have to think that hard, you just sit back and enjoy it. People were just happy to get out and enjoy live theatre".

(L to R) Jessica Crouch and Olivia Valli Credit Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

While everything was these new Covid times are, they had to cancel their last four shows in Chicago and their run in Washington D.C. After that, thankfully things have kept going -and we will cross our fingers for all of them, and for us :)- 

I am very curious about the audiences that come out to see this show being that the movie was released in 1990 (Jesus, lord...) So I ask who comes out and if there are wondering Gen Z's curiously coming out to see what this is about. 

"We get a mix of demographics coming out. A lot of them are familiar with the movie, they come dressed in the different outfits Julia Robert used so there is definitely that nostalgic feeling from people when they come out to see it and the musical was written and created by Gary Marshall who also had the original concept for the film so it is very tightly knit except that it has music. Great music! and it's fast-paced, lively, it is really, really good. I think anybody can appreciate it, whether they've seen the movie or not".

Do audiences need to see the movie before heading to see the musical?

"The thing is having seen the movie, you will get all the references like there are many lines directly from the movie, little scenes, and little vignettes that took place in the movie that if you've seen it, if you're familiar with it, you will recognize those moments but, you do not have to have seen the movie in order to appreciate the show because it tells the story very well and I think it is pretty clear like I said it is a really fun time".

What does a regular day for Chris look like? (Not a Monday cause that's their day off. So like a show day)

"When I wake up, I like to do a little bit of work, read, and check if I have a rehearsal. I also like to go to the gym at least five days a week, try to stay in shape because you know, we are active on stage, dancing and moving a lot and that is great but I like to stay ready to do all of that. Then I rest and relax, we have a lot of opportunities to visit and learn about the city that I am in so when I leave I can talk about it. If someone asks me 'Oh, how was San Diego?' I want to be able to tell them more than just a quarter-mile radius from where we are staying at the hotel. Half an hour before show times we get calls to the theatre, a lot of times people will do warmups and stretch. I like to sit in the wings right away, sit backstage and listen to the people coming into the theatre, sitting down and the excitement building". 

Fun fact, Chris is a Yuyitsu enthusiast and San Diego is big on Yuyitsu (You learn something every day) so he is happy to check that scene out while being here. 

Regarding possible backlash for the show topic and backlashes happening everywhere for anything these days, I ask if there has been any.

"Not that I have seen or heard. People kind of know what they are coming to see and it is done in a way that is tasteful. I do not think that there is anything particularly offensive in the show and it is very similar to the movie look, people will have their own opinions about those types of things and that is not for me to question but if you are coming to have a good time and to be open, I think many theatergoers are pretty open and their understandings and outlook on things and if you are able, come out to see some good acting, some good singing and some good, you will enjoy it! and that is what it comes down to, the topic may not be for everyone but I think the music and the experience of being in a live theatre and the amazing work that was done by the set designers, costume designers, lighting designers, all comes into play. It can be a good experience nonetheless. Besides the actors there is so much that goes on behind the scenes, the hair and wig department, wardrobe, the dressers, and the crew that make it happen, so there's a lot that goes into it and we hope that people appreciate it when they come out and have a good time. Look up those tickets and invite everybody to come out".

For this production, audiences can come to the stage door and greet the artists so if that is your thing, go for it!

Pretty Woman The Musical is currently playing until July 31. Check all the details and performance times HERE.

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