Ore Oduba Pretty Woman

Ore Oduba on his Role in Pretty Woman The Musical

Ore Oduba will be playing Happy Man / Mr Thompson in Pretty Woman The Musical coming to Sunderland Empire on 28 May

Caroline Dask

Journalist at Luxe

28 May will be a big night out. BIG. HUGE. Hollywood’s ultimate rom-com, Pretty Woman The Musical is coming to Sunderland Empire and the North East is thrilled with excitement.

While we all know and love the film, the musical will allow theatre-goers to be swept up in Vivian and Edward’s romance in this dazzlingly theatrical take on a love story for the ages.

Set in the late ’80s, this sensational show will have everything – a female-empowering storyline, love, music and a chance for the audience to see their beloved characters in a whole new light.

One of them is Happy Man / Mr Thompson, played by the talented Ore Oduba. Ore, besides being a Strickly champion, was most recently seen as Brad Majors in the West End and UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show, and now embarking on a UK tour playing the narrator and the central Vivian’s support system in Pretty Woman The Musical.

Ore Oduba Pretty Woman

Ore, can you tell me a little bit about your journey into theatre and how you landed the role of Mr Thompson?

Absolutely! It’s been a nine-year journey for me in theatre. I’ve been performing on stage for the last five years, and it’s been an incredible experience. What makes it timeless is the new audience every night, making each performance feel fresh and exciting.

People often ask how it feels to do the same thing every night, but it doesn’t feel repetitive because each show brings a new energy and experience. It’s like getting better at your job daily while also feeling like you’re starting anew each night.

I landed the role of Mr. Thompson after the casting call came out in February last year. We started rehearsals in September, and it’s been a blessing. I play Happy Man/Mr. Thompson and the character evolves throughout the show, adding to the excitement and variety.

Performing in Pretty Woman, a story beloved for decades, and bringing it to life every night has been a joy. And fortunately, audiences have been really enjoying it!

How did you prepare for the role? Did you draw inspiration from the original movie or did you approach it with a fresh perspective?

In rehearsals, we were encouraged to watch the original movie, as it’s the best reference for the stage adaptation, created by the same people behind the film. This adaptation hits many of the notes fans expect while allowing us to bring something new to the live performance.

For Mr. Thompson, I drew inspiration from his role in the movie as an important uncle-like figure, bringing that heartwarming relationship to life. The Happy Man character, though a minor figure in the film, offers me more creative freedom. In the show, he’s a bit of a narrator and a magical presence, helping to realise Vivian’s dreams. This flexibility lets me have fun with the role and bring fresh ideas to it every night.

Ore Oduba Pretty Woman

Do you have a favourite moment in the show?

There are many, but without giving too much away, making the audience laugh is definitely a highlight. The show is filled with humour, much like the original rom-com, and that really resonates with the audience.

Another favourite moment is when my character, Happy Man, steps out and says, ‘Welcome to Hollywood.’ No matter what kind of day I’ve had, that moment always brings joy and sets the tone for a fun, engaging performance.

What has been the most challenging or rewarding aspect of playing Happy Man / Mr Thompson?

The most challenging part might be the physical demand – it can be tough on my almost 40-year-old body!

But overall, it’s incredibly rewarding. Pretty Woman is an iconic story from the ’80s, and we strive to keep it relevant while providing an entertaining escape for the audience. The joy comes from staying true to the story and making sure the audience has a great time. It’s all about having fun and bringing smiles.

What messages from the show do you find particularly important?

The main message is about Vivian writing her own story, which highlights female empowerment. This theme keeps the show relevant for a 2024 audience. It resonates strongly, especially when Vivian, despite being downtrodden, shows her strength and resilience. I find that audiences really connect with and support this aspect of the story.

Ore Oduba Pretty Woman

The tour has already started, how has it been so far and what are you excited about the most bringing this show to Sunderland?

The tour has been fantastic, and we’re about two-thirds through. I’m especially excited to bring the show to Sunderland because I think the North East audiences are wonderful, and the Sunderland Empire Theatre is beautiful.

I’ve been to Sunderland a couple of times, most recently with The Rocky Horror Show and it has been amazing. Now, I look forward to everyone enjoying ‘Pretty Woman The Musical’! It’s going to be great fun.

Pretty Woman The Musical is is on at Sunderland Empire from 28 May until 8 June. Book your tickets here.