Travis Ward-Osborne joins the national touring company of Pretty Woman: The Musical, which opens at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin on Jan. 17. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade
'Pretty Woman: The Musical' open this week at Bass Concert Hall
For Travis Ward-Osborne, the dream to become a stage performer began with watching the Grammys with his Mom when he was four years old.
“I don’t know what it was about that specific show, but I was watching one of the performers and I said, ‘That. I want to do that.’”
Decades of hard work and persistence later, Ward-Osborne’s dreams are coming true. After getting a BFA in theater from the University of Michigan, he is starting his first principle contract with Broadway Across America’s tour of “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” opening this week at Bass Concert Hall.
Ward-Osborne stars in the role of Happy Man/Mr. Thompson, known to fans of “Pretty Woman” movie fans as the hotel concierge who becomes an unexpected ally to the film’s main character, Vivian Ward.
“They took the idea of Mr. Thompson, who was played by Hector Elizondo in the movie, and they expanded it,” Ward-Osborne said. “I also play Happy Man, who is the alter ego, like a fairy godfather.”
Since Pretty Woman finds its roots in the traditional Cinderella fairy tale, the expansion of the hotel concierge’s character makes perfect sense.
“I kind of guide Vivian through her journey and orchestrate different parts of the story and allow the magic to happen,” Ward-Osborne said. “Even after learning the ins and outs of the choreography, I still get to play with how different bits work. It’s really a dialogue with the audience. It’s like I’m Vivian’s best friend and you’re going to be my best friend, and we’re going through this together.”
Because “Pretty Woman” has been adapted as a musical, audiences can expect a number of playful changes to the story in order to adapt it for the stage.
“The creative team has to be clever about what’s going to translate,” Ward-Osborne said. “In the movie, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere are playing up close, but on stage it’s a more broad artform.”
An example of this occurs with a song number called “On a Night Light Tonight,” performed by Mr. Thompson and Vivian. “In the movie, Hector Elizondo’s character is showing her how to use cutlery properly,” Ward-Osborne said. “ On the stage that doesn’t really translate, because it’s not big enough for the stage. In the stage version, he’s teaching her how to do a formal tango.”
“Pretty Woman: The Musical” premiers this week at Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Dr. in Austin. Showtimes are Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 and 7 p.m. Tickets start at $30 and are available at texasperformingarts.org and BroadwayinAustin.com, by phone at (512) 477-1444, or from the Texas Performing Arts ticket office at Bass Concert Hall.