Alice Reys traveled four thousand miles from Brazil to chase her dreams on Broadway, and ended up right where she wanted, on a stage sharing experiences with delighted audiences.
Reys is currently part of the cast of the national tour of Pretty Woman: The Musical, which is coming to the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts from March 21-26, 2023.
And yes, it’s based on the classic movie.
Julia Roberts and Richard Gere were a dynamic pairing for the 1990 romantic comedy which had a prostitute and a businessman falling in love and changing each other’s lives forever. The musical expands on the beloved story that has stood the test of time with original music written by Grammy winning singer-songwriter Bryan Adams as well as a book by the movie’s director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J. F. Lawton.
Recently we had the opportunity to chat with Reys regarding her path to New York City from Brazil, how Pretty Woman: The Musical expands on best aspects of the story while continuing to pull in theatergoers with its music and timeless feel-good Hollywood story, and why her favorite aspect of performing is seeing the smiling faces in the audience.
Hello Alice! To start off could you tell us about your path to get into the performing arts?
So talking a little bit about starting my artistic career, I started dancing at five and singing at seven, then I joined theater because I started singing at church. And then this church had a theater group in it, and I joined it, and then I was doing musical theater when I was seven years old.
So I’ve been doing this over 20 years. Oh my God. Oh, yeah. It’s been a while. But that was all in Brazil because I’m born and raised in Brazil. But when I was six, when I started dancing, I wanted to be one of the cats in Cats and I told my mom that I needed to move to New York when I was six years old. And my mom was like, “Are you crazy!? Why?”
I said, “because I want to be that cat.” And I wanted to be the white cat in Cats. And I said that that was the only way for me to be in Cats, is if I was in New York. It took me a minute to actually move to New York because I’ve been in New York now for ten years, but I actually did it after I did my last show in Brazil with Hairspray.
Is there any difference besides the language in terms of doing theater arts in Brazil compared to the scene in the US?
When I decided to move, everyone in Brazil was like, “why are you going? You’re already here. People know your name in the musical theater scene.” And I was like, “because I want to do it with the people that made everything, they know, and I’m going to learn with them and then maybe I’ll come back, but I want to go and see how it’s done there.”
And the Brazilian musical theater scene now is much bigger and it’s beautiful and it is incredible. But I can say that the difference between doing it there and doing it here is how much knowledge and the technique. It’s so beautiful to see, like, I worked with kids in Evita and they’ve been doing this since they were born, it’s a very natural thing.
When I moved from Brazil, we were still learning everything. Even the productions that were coming, everything was really fresh and new. Even though I dance and sing and I act since I was seven years old, it’s different than coming and learning from here, which is the base of everything.
To me, one of the most rewarding things about doing this show is seeing how people love this story. If you think about it as a Cinderella story, but told in a very unique way because the Cinderella is a hooker.
To me it’s the experience of actually being on a Broadway production, seeing how they have everything figured out. Everything just makes so much sense.
But when I go visit, I watch shows and I see that Brazil is incredible with it right now, because we’ve been bringing so many shows now, they just started auditioning for A Pretty Woman: The Musical in Brazil. So my friends were all crazy about it and messaging me because they’re going to open in Brazil in two months and everyone’s like, “you’re not coming?”
I feel like the difference, other than the language, is the experience. I feel like here is where everything started. So it’s like learning from the ones that started doing it. It’s an experience that I don’t think I would ever have if I didn’t come here.
Could you tell me a little bit about Pretty Woman: The Musical and your role as an ensemble member and an understudy for character Kit De Luca?
So I joined the company as an ensemble member, which is part of the big group as a dancer. So I’m in the dance track and now I transition to being a cover for Kit who’s the best friend.
When I did Hairspray in Brazil, I was a swing for eight different tracks. But being an understudy here to me is crazier, just because I feel like the understudy has to be ready all the time, and it’s the beauty of just saving the show whenever you have to go.
And after being a swing, I got a little scared of that because you have to be ready all the time. If the lead that’s on stage can’t go on for whatever reason, you have to be ready. And even though you don’t do the show every day, you have to perform as if you did. So that’s the big challenge to me, being an understudy. And even though it’s scary, it just makes you grow as a performer and as an artist.
So I feel like being an understudy is one of the most challenging things for a performer in this area. But it’s also so much fun and I love it. But we do have a group of swings that do all the other tracks. So if I go on as Kit, that means that one of the swings, they have to cover for my ensemble track. And we have two what we call female presenting swings, and we have two males, and they are incredible.
To be a swing, to me, means to be a superhero, because I cover Kid, so I know another role. But the swings, they cover everyone. It’s like they have superpowers. And the show would not be this show [without them]. I can’t describe to you how many times we needed all the swings on stage. And the show is as powerful, as incredible and as fulfilling for the audience as if it was the actual performers that are there doing it every day. So the swings are a big part and so important, and our swings, they’re really incredible.
Could you tell me what the main theme of the show is and how that may differ or compared to what people know in the movie? And what do you enjoy best about the show?
To me, one of the most rewarding things about doing this show is seeing how people love this story. If you think about it as a Cinderella story, but told in a very unique way because the Cinderella is a hooker. But at the same time, that vision of what a hooker would be, she’s just a girl. She’s just a girl trying her best. And throughout the story and throughout the show and throughout the movie, people see the Vivian, the human that she is and all the special things that she has, and that’s the reason why Edward falls in love with her, and then nothing else matters.
It’s just the fact that we have a special girl and this man and they fall in love and all the circumstances they change because of this powerful love that they built, because of how powerful the love is. So I feel like that’s why the movie is what it is and that’s why people are so crazy about it, because it’s life and this beautiful love story that happens.
So when people come to the theater, the crazy thing is they dress up. We see girls coming in with the polka dot dress. We see girls coming in with the red dress, with the first outfit, the hooker outfit, the blue and white. And it’s so beautiful to see how they put on the time to dress up just because they love it so much.
And so when people ask me my favorite part of the show, I say that my favorite part of the show is the bows. We do sing “Pretty Woman”, so everyone gets so happy because that’s the best part for them, is when they get to sing along and they get to be a part of the story like they feel like they are the entire show.
So the exchange of energy is so powerful to me to see how happy these people are going to leave the theater. And even for a slight second, they forget about their troubles. They forget about all the things that they’re going through in life, and they just simply want to have fun with this story that they love so much.
So the difference between the movie and the show is that we sing and dance, but the story is the same. So it’s the way that we tell the story that’s a little different. But the base of it, the love story that happens between this hooker and this rich man, it’s the same. So seeing the happiness that these people bring and they feel and the joy, the exchange of happiness at the end, it just makes everything make sense.
And finally, is there anything that you wanted readers to know about your experience working on this show?
I think this last part that I just said is always my favorite to say, how much I enjoy seeing the happiness and then the people that come to see the show, they just come to have a good time.
The main thing about when people ask me “why should I go?” I always say, “you are going to have fun.” That’s guaranteed a fun time. Two hours of your life that you’re just going to sit down and laugh, and maybe cry, but you’re going to have fun. And that’s the joy for us.
All the people in that stage and backstage, which is so important, without the backstage, the show wouldn’t happen. So all the people making that show happen, that’s the reason why we do it, because we know that the people that are watching, they’re going to come and have a blast. They’re going to leave the theater with a smile on their faces. That’s the main thing for all of us that are doing the show.
More information and tickets available at broadwaysanjose.com.