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Love Island’s Amber Davies and Strictly champ Ore Oduba talk Pretty Woman the Musical 
Image / Living / Culture

Photo: Marc Brenner

Love Island’s Amber Davies and Strictly champ Ore Oduba talk Pretty Woman the Musical 


by Sarah Finnan
30th May 2024

Coming to both Cork and Dublin as part of its first-ever Irish tour, Pretty Woman the Musical is a rip-roaring good time with love, lust and enough laughs to leave you smiling from ear to ear. 

Based on the iconic 90s flick starring Julia Roberts, the musical sticks pretty closely to the plot of the original film with added music and lyrics by Grammy Award-winners Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. 

Former Love Island winner Amber Davies takes on the role of Vivian Ward in this production, whose killer vocals elevate the character to new heights, while Strictly Come Dancing champion Ore Oduba stars as both Happy Man and Mr. Thompson – two roles that though different, complement each other nicely. 

Was one more fun than the other? Not really, says Oduba who enjoys the challenge of wearing both pairs of shoes. “Mr. Thompson is a very straight-laced, very detailed, kind of conservative hotel manager and Happy Man’s like a streetwalker. He’s just a bit random and a bit of a bit of a Fagin-type character (from Oliver!). From a performance perspective, the changes are very subtle but they make a big impact so that’s been really fun to play with. Performing them is totally complimentary – I love being able to one minute be the kind of crazy cat and then in the next scene, speak very particularly. It never feels boring.”

Crowned king of Strictly back in 2016, Oduba didn’t get into theatre until around three years later but between live dance tours and now his theatre work, he’s been on the road for almost seven years. “It’s become a lot more normal than I ever thought it would,” he admits

“When new projects come along, the excitement of bringing a brand new production around the country gets you through. I’d love to spend more time in my own bed but that’s counterbalanced by the fact that I know when I go to work, I’m in a new place for people who haven’t seen that production and they’re buzzing. Seven years ago, I’d just turned 30, but now, I’m closing in on 40… it’s not an easy thing being on the road so you do have to find ways that make it feel like it’s not completely alien.”

Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, this production is a hoot, much of the comedic relief coming courtesy of Ore and the bellboy, played by Noah Harris. “There’s nothing like making an audience laugh. They really injected a lot of humour into this production,” Oduba tells me. Amber agrees. “I don’t leave the stage for two and a half hours I literally bust a gut and Noah’s the star of the show in every bloody review! He’s a natural actor, he’s a joy to work with.”

The opening scene is Ore’s favourite moment in the show but for Amber, it comes a little later. “The song ‘I Can’t Go Back’ in the second act is a highlight for me. It’s about 20 minutes from the end of the show and it’s a real turning point for Vivian. It’s where she finds her power and her strength. It’s an honour to sing that song every night.”

With previous parts in Back to the Future: The Musical, 9 to 5 the Musical and Bring it On, Davies is well accustomed to performing in front of a crowd… though like Ore, many still recognise her for other things. “A lot of people ask me whether I regret doing Love Island and I really don’t. I moved to London at 16 to do a three-year diploma in musical theatre – I went on Love Island to have fun but I’m so grateful that all my stars just fell into line because there was no other option for me but to do musical theatre. I think people misjudge me sometimes but I have put the shift in. I’ve done the hardcore training, I’ve done the auditions, I’ve woken up at 6am to go on a call with 30 other girls that look the same as me. I’ve done it all but I’m just so grateful for Love Island because actually, it was just the perfect thing I could have done at that time.”

Emotive from start to finish, this show truly brings you on a journey – the highlight of which is the end performance of Roy Orbison and Bill Dee’s international smash hit song “Oh, Pretty Woman” (the inspiration behind the beloved rom-com). “It’s just such a feel-good show. That’s what I love about it,” says Amber. “People are always up on their feet by the end. That’s my favourite type of show to be in.”

Open in Ireland – first in Cork at the end of this month and then in Dublin in early July – both actors are looking forward to exploring a little more (if they have time!) while here. “I haven’t been to Ireland for over 20 years so I cannot wait,” Ore smiles. “I was over in 2002 on a rugby tour with school and I remember injuring my shoulder in the first match so I didn’t really play for the next week and a half. But I did have a drink or two and I’ve just been desperate to put a lot of those wrongs to rights!” Amber, on the other hand, is most looking forward to the huge dressing rooms at the Bord Gáis! “I’ve performed there before and the dressing rooms are the best thing since sliced bread. They’re all like apartments! I love it in Dublin.”

Fresh, fun and with songs that will be stuck in your head for weeks, missing this one would be a big mistake. Huge. 

Pretty Woman the Musical runs at the Cork Opera House from June 24 -29 and at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from July 2-13. 

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