Bryan Adams didn’t get a lot of time to know Garry Marshall. But the Canadian rocker enjoyed all the time he spent with the famed TV and film impresario as he and songwriting partner Jim Vallance worked on material for the upcoming Broadway adaptation of Marshall’s hit film Pretty Woman.
“What a sweetheart he is. You wouldn’t believe it,” Adams told Billboard earlier this week, shortly before Marshall died on Tuesday at the age of 81. “He wasn’t at the original audition that we did, but he was very much a part of this. Just brilliant to work with.”
Marshall’s death will undoubtedly put some extra fuel behind the Pretty Woman musical, which is being directed by Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray). Adams made inquiries about the project eight or nine years ago, when he first heard it was being considered. It wound up not happening at the time, but last year Adams learned that it was finally proceeding, and a friend in the Broadway community hooked him up with the producers.
“Basically we did an audition,” Adams recalls. “Jim and I wrote three songs which we thought would be appropriate for the stage and then we met with [the producers] and it was one of those classic scenarios where, ‘OK, you guys need to leave the room so we can talk about you, and we’ll call you, don’t call us.’ And then half an hour later I got a call.”
Since starting work in January, Adams and Vallance have written about 14 of the 20-22 songs that will be needed for the musical, with a December deadline for everything to be completed. None of the songs from the film’s soundtrack — which included tracks by Roxette, Go West, a new mix of David Bowie‘s “Fame” and Roy Orbison‘s “(Oh) Pretty Woman” — are being used for the stage version. “We have these large meetings when we all sit around, 20-25 people, and they all talk about what’s going to happen and Jim and I sort of skulk away and go write a song,” says Adams, who’s a fan of the 1990 movie that starred Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. “Obviously these things go through huge changes as you get closer to the date, so the stage is different than a band. You find areas of [the book] where music’s playing and there’s dialogue and you have to segue back into the song, so there’s a lot of arrangements that goes on — a lot more production and arrangement that goes into a musical than there is in making an album. It’s super fun.”
Adams will be mixing work on Pretty Woman with live performances. He has shows booked in North America and Europe through Oct. 11, continuing to promote Get Up, his 2015 Jeff Lynne-produced album.