Now, before I begin, this is the time I need to tell you, I have never seen Officer and a Gentleman the film. I know, I don’t know how this has happened either, so if you want to choose right now to stop reading and disregard everything I have to say, I will understand.
But if you are still here, I can tell you that, in my film ignorant opinion, An Officer and a Gentleman the musical is most definitely worth going to see. It is, however, possible that those who have seen the film 100 times and love it, may not be able to get behind a stage musical version of it, just as I struggled with the stage version of Dirty Dancing. Sadly I don’t know anyone who has seen both stage and screen versions of Officer so I cannot judge. I might watch the film soon and compare them and report in.
I, however, LOVED this show. Spot on vocals from the entire cast, a very impressive set, a feel-good 80s soundtrack and a timeless love story make this a great night out.
This new musical is based on the 1982 Oscar-winning film and tells the story of Zack Mayo (Jonny Fines) training to become a US Navy Pilot. Zack turns up to training with a bit too much swagger and not enough respect to find drill Sergeant Foley (Ray Shell) ready to whip him into shape. Just like their mothers before them, some of the young local girls, paid pittance in the town factory, believe their only route out is to marry a rich Navy officer and so the chase ensues. Despite Paula Pokrifki ( Emma Williams) being adamant that she just wants a fling and isn’t interested in escaping with a Naval man, she starts up a relationship with Zack while her friend, Lynette (Jessica Daley) – who absolutely wants more than a fling – does the same with another Navy hopeful, Sid (Ian Mcintosh)
As Zack begins being beaten into shape by the Navy, the other hopefuls gradually drop out. His relationship with Paula unintentionally gets more intense, much to the dismay of her mum, Esther, who had herself once chased an officer and had it all go wrong. As relationships and friendships blossom, Zack begins to learn that he doesn’t need to game the system to get ahead in life and with the support of those around him, he learns that his past doesn’t need to hold him back in becoming an officer and a gentleman.
Jonny Fines is amazing as the leading man; his performance was crammed with very believable angst and anguish stemming from Zach’s turbulent childhood, his vocals were spot on, he had great chemistry with Emma Williams, and…well…the abs! Meanwhile, Emma Willis did not disappoint. It is hard to list everything which was positive as there was nothing at all to criticize but her voice was astonishing and every moment she was on stage, was great to watch.
Normally I would offer other notable cast members but everyone was great. Ray Shell’s Sergeant Foley had a great balance of angry drill sergeant and supportive mentor, Keisha Atwell as Casey Seegar – eventually the first woman to make it through the training was spot on, and Rachel Stanley as Esther, Paula’s mum, performed perhaps my favourite song of the show “This is a man’s work”, belting out the song with her incredible alto voice.
The physicality of the show is also very impressive. Those playing the Navy hopefuls have to be extremely physically fit to get through the training scenes while also singing.
My only gripe is the lack of believability between the secondary characters’, Paula and Sid’s, relationship. I actually didn’t think they liked each other much. Missing some of the subtle looks, touches and passion which was so prevalent in that of Paula and Zack, was a bit jarring. Individually they were fine, I just didn’t believe their relationship. This was definitely made up for, however, by the fact that Jessica Daley has Lynette has a voice which will blow you out of your seat.
An Officer and a Gentleman the musical is a real feel good show, packed with classic 80s songs performed by a fabulous cast. This show is not to be missed!
On tour until 15th September
For ticket information and tour dates go to – www.officerandagentlemanmusical.com/book
Written by – Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen
Director – Nikolai Foster
Choreographer – Kate Prince
Musical Director – Michael Riley