Interview with Pretty Woman star Orfeh

Orfeh

"Never Give Up on a Dream," belts out Tony Award nominee Orfeh with co-star Eric Anderson in one of her musical numbers in the fan favorite Pretty Woman: The Musical, which continues to break box office records at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre. And those words could just as well be this hard-working actress' life motto ever since graduating from the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. After a short-lived formation of the group "Or-N-More" (with Mike More), Orfeh’s song-writing skills managed to secure her a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music and she continued to write and produce songs for other artists. And to our delight, she would eventually find her way to the Broadway stage in 1998.

Orfeh started off as a swing in the Broadway premiere of Footloose in the fall of 1998 (and would later go on to assume the role of Rusty in the celebrated stage musical adaptation), before starring in The Gerswhins' Fascinating Rhythm in the spring of 1999. Later that same year, she was cast to play Annette in the Broadway premiere of Saturday Night Fever, a role that would change her life in more ways than one. She would meet her future husband, Andy Karl, during the production's run and the couple tied the knot shortly after, in 2001.


Orfeh & Andy Karl
(Photo by Tom Millward)

In 2007, Orfeh shot to Broadway superstardom with a Tony-nominated performance as Paulette (starring opposite her husband as UPS delivery man, Kyle) in Legally Blonde and now, over a decade later, the pair are reunited on stage in Pretty Woman.

We recently had the opportunity to get the Broadway favorite's thoughts on her current Broadway adventure...


Eric Anderson & Orfeh in Pretty Woman: The Musical
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Broadway fans have loved your stage interpretations of popular movie characters over the years - from Rusty in Footloose to Annette in Saturday Night Fever to your Tony-nominated turn as Paulette in Legally Blonde and now Kit De Luca in Pretty Woman – what’s the best thing about recreating characters from films for the stage and the best thing about being in a screen-to-stage musical adaptation in general?

Well, when the source material is good (and I’ve been lucky enough to be in adaptations of very big very popular smash hit films), it comes along with really fabulous performances in the films to begin with so you take a little bit of what is iconic from the screen, then inject/infuse your own skill set and hopefully you have indelible stage versions of those characters. I’ve had the good fortune of getting to put my stamp on Paulette, Annette, and certainly now Kit. In the case of hit movie to musical transfers, familiarity does not breed contempt... if you do it right!

What’s it like going to work with your husband every day?

I have worked with my husband on multiple occasions, most notably in Saturday Night Fever and Legally Blonde on Broadway. We have a concert series and CD out based on our concerts called "Legally Bound" (available on Broadway Records) and we’ve done some wonderful regional productions together as well. There is no one I enjoy working with more and no one I enjoy going to work/“play” with more.

Your belting vocals were truly on form in numbers such as “Rodeo Drive” and “Never Give Up on a Dream” at the recent performance of Pretty Woman I attended, but what’s your favorite musical number from all the others songs in Bryan Adams & Jim Vallance’s score and why?

I love many of the songs but the quiet and intimacy of Andy singing “Freedom” is one of my most fave moments/songs in the show. 

Feminists have historically had a rocky relationship with the movie “Pretty Woman” since its release. What do you think are the elements of this musical adaptation that might put their minds at ease?

Well, as I’m told (and as I witness every night by the reaction of the audience almost from the first downbeat of the show), this is a whole different experience than you may or may NOT expect. Our female characters are very strong completely in charge and it’s a very happy, uplifting story. And certain characters like Kit are much more fleshed out in this version, as is Happy Man, so you get a lot more and a different slant than you most likely bargained for.

If you could star as any popular film character on stage for your next Broadway venture, who would it be and why?

Well, that’s a pretty long list as I’m a huge movie buff but two that come to mind are Margo Channing (from "All About Eve") and Elizabeth Hurley as Lucifer in "Bedazzled"!


Orfeh in Pretty Woman: The Musical
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Pretty Woman: The Musical Tickets are available now for performances through to June 9, 2019.

(Headshot courtesy of Polk & Co.)

Pretty Woman has now closed in New York, but the show will be transferring to London. 
Pretty Woman tickets will be available via our partner site LondonTheatre.co.uk