Chase Wolfe and Ellie Baker in "Pretty Woman" Source: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Hunky Chase Wolfe Puts His Own Spin on Richard Gere's Iconic Tycoon in Musicalized 'Pretty Woman'

Steve Duffy READ TIME: 10 MIN.

If there ever was a film destined to become a musical it is "Pretty Woman," the 1990 Garry Marshall hit that offered a contemporary twist on a classic fairytale. In that twist, Julia Roberts played a Hollywood prostitute who finds herself enamored of a client, a business tycoon, played in the film by Richard Gere.

With music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, and a book by Garry Marshall and J. F. Lawton, "Pretty Woman: the Musical" opened on Broadway in August 2019 and played a year. A London production and a national tour followed, as well as ones throughout Europe. The current Non-Equity tour, which plays Boston's Emerson Colonial Theatre from February 27 – March 4, continues in US cities through May. For a complete list of upcoming dates, follow this link.

What is it like for an actor to follow in the shoes – Louis Vuittons, no doubt – of Richard Gere, who was so suavely charming in the film? In this tour that challenge goes to ginger hottie Chase Wolfe, a former chemist who performed as a hobby while working in the fragrance industry. Then in 2018, he made the jump to performing full-time, and he hasn't looked back or been unemployed. Amongst his diverse credits has been performing on cruise lines, appearing off-Broadway (and on record) in the fantasy "Xena Warrior Musical," creating his own one-person shows, and dancing with the Alvin Ailey company.

But his role of Edward Lewis in "Pretty Woman" is his biggest to date. Physically, the bearded, built Wolfe looks more like Chris Pratt than he does Richard Gere, and this helps give the character a more contemporary spin. But how does he make the character his own? EDGE spoke to Wolfe about getting the role and how he puts his own spin on it.

EDGE: What about this musical version made you want to be a part of it?

Chase Wolfe: Funny enough, this show wasn't something that was on my radar. It kind of got placed there. I got a request to audition for it on my birthday, so I figured I had to. What a great birthday gift to me to audition for a lead in a show. I hadn't watched the movie, so I watched the scenes that I needed for the audition. After I booked the role, I finished the movie. It's a show that has grown on me as a performer. I love the role and I love the story. When I finished the movie, I loved how unique their love story is because Vivian chose to walk away and not stay. She doesn't want to be in second place, not to Edward or his aspirations. She's going to be number one or nothing at all. That part drew me into the story. The show is fun and it's iconic. It's the movie on stage with music.

EDGE: Are you a fan of the movie?

Chase Wolfe: I am now. I didn't grow up a fan of the movie. I've probably seen the movie, but just not in one sitting. It's constantly on television. Over the years, I probably watched little bits and clips of it, but I never sat down and watched it until I booked the role.

EDGE: How does the stage version differ from the film?

Chase Wolfe: The biggest difference is there's music. We bring in a lot of the iconic moments. There is the necklace clap. And all of your favorite characters are in it. We've got some of the iconic lines and if you know the movie, you will be able to quote the stage show. It's very relatable. Unfortunately, the scene with the snail was cut, but now it's a big dance number. There's also one character to keep an eye out for – Happy Man. Adam Du Plessis plays him, and he is a phenomenal actor. In the movie, he's only in the opening and closing credits. If you remember he says, "Welcome to Hollywood. What's your dream?"

EDGE: You're playing Edward. Can you tell us a little bit about your character?

Chase Wolfe: Edward Lewis is a business tycoon, who eats and takes apart businesses. He buys them and then sells the pieces of them while making a lot of money. He meets Vivian on a whim. He happens to be at the right place at the right time. He falls in love with her pretty quickly. He loves her spirit and who she is as a person. There's something unique and different about her that he doesn't experience in his day-to-day life, so he just wants to be around her all the time. Through that, she opens a door for him making him realize what he's been missing out on. He allows her to help change and mold him into a better man.

EDGE: What are the challenges in playing this iconic role?

Chase Wolfe: The biggest challenge is that I am not Richard Gere. When I went into the audition room, I had seen enough of the film to know how to do the Richard Gear smize. In the film, he just smolders the whole time at Vivian. He's very chill and Vivian is a hurricane of energy and chaos that comes at him, and he just takes it, but he also knows how to calm it down and he sends it right back to her. Unfortunately, on the stage that doesn't work because there are people in mezzanines and balconies who wouldn't be able to see that from high up. I would look like I was just staring into space for the whole show.

So, I had to show them what I could do for the role. I've been very lucky that the directors made sure that while we pay homage to the film and characters, they also wanted to make sure it was more important that we showed who we are as characters through our own lens. I get to be Edward through my lens and Ellie gets to be Vivian through her lens. I think we do a pretty good job. We sure are having a lot of fun too.

EDGE: The show has music from Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. Tell us about the songs. Do they have a rock vibe?

Chase Wolfe: They are not necessarily Broadway tunes. Most of are pop hits. It's a lot of eighties rock. Rae Davenport plays Kit, and she was formerly in "Six" on the Norwegian cruise ships. She is a master at riffing and does an amazing job. My songs are pretty much rock songs. I grew up in the south, so I have a little bit of a country twang. So, if you're looking for your classic Broadway hits, you're probably not going to get them here, but if you're looking for something new, fresh, and exciting then you have definitely come to the right show.

EDGE: The film came out over 30 years ago. What about the story do you feel continues to captivate audiences?

Chase Wolfe: It is a good question. Our story has two motifs. Never give up on a dream and believe in your power. I genuinely believe in the power Vivian has and I love the power this story gives to her character. I believe that it translates well, in a time, where we are trying to uplift women more and essentially give them their power back. It's a good moment for women and to show everyone to stand your ground. If you have a dream, if you have an inspiration, if you feel like you deserve more, don't settle for less, go after what you want. You are worth it. You are important, you are validated, and you should fight and stand up for what you believe in.

EDGE: You spent much of your professional career performing on cruise ships. How does it feel to be performing on land?

Chase Wolfe: There is always a process in getting where you want to go, so I'm very grateful for cruise ships. They trained and taught me a lot. This next step in my career is a dream come true. Being on land and traveling is hard, but at least I have cell service every day. I can call my family whenever I want and don't have to wait once a month or until I find Wi-Fi. I am the lead of a musical, which is crazy. I love it. I get to meet and connect with more people, and I get to share a story with thousands more people than I would've on a ship. I loved my work on cruise ships, but I'm very glad to be on land.

EDGE: As an LGBTQIA+ ally, what does the community mean to you?

Chase Wolfe: Everything! I grew up in an atmosphere that taught me to not accept the LGBTQ+ community. Then I jumped into a work environment where I had to learn to accept something I wasn't necessarily trained to as a kid. It has been such a valuable lesson and the grace that I have been given as I continue to learn is amazing. The first kid to ever come out to me was my best friend in high school. We had been friends since the second grade, and it was the first time I had to say, I still love you no matter what. I will not lose you as a friend no matter if our beliefs are the same or different. Now over the years, our beliefs have grown together and fused us together. I wouldn't be the person I am today without the LGBTQIA+ community. When I look at most of my closest friends that I have, most of them are a part of that community. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for your community and my community. I say thank you and I will continue to cheer and support the LGBTQIA+ community.

EDGE: On your Instagram profile, you write "I Won't Grow Up / Don't Stop Me Now." Is that your life quote?

Chase Wolfe: Ironically, it's not a quote. It's the names of my two solo shows. I have two cabaret shows that I do. "I Won't Grow Up" is my telling of the Peter Pan story. It's a story about learning as we grow up, but also learning what it means to be who we are. Life can hit us and bring us down, but we all have to get back up. Always remember to play laugh and grow no matter how old we get. "Don't Stop Me Now" is a Queen Show. I wrote a whole show with Queen songs, which is fun.

You can see Chase Wolfe in "Pretty Woman" at Boston's Emerson Colonial Theatre from February 27 – March 4. For more details, follow this link. For details on upcoming dates in the "Pretty Woman" tour, follow this link.

Watch Chase Wolfe perform "Into the Unknown."

by Steve Duffy

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