The Grand Theatre, Leeds – until Saturday 28th April 2018
Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood
An Officer and a Gentleman, the Musical is based on the 1982 film starring Richard Gere and written by Douglas Day Stewart. The musical had an Australian premiere back in 2012 but received mixed reviews. Nikolai Foster, Artistic Director at Leicester’s Curve Theatre, directs this new production and along with Kate Prince’s choreography. The world premiere of this new production began its current UK tour in Leicester and will finish in Glasgow later in the year.
The story is based on Zack Mayo (Jonny Fines) who trains to become a pilot in the US Navy and faces obstacles along the way. With a turbulent family background he is determined to become resilient and successful. During his training he falls in love with Paula Pokrifki (Emma Williams), a local girl who has dreams in bettering herself, and there are the struggles when he deals with the tragedy of his friend and training candidate, Sid Worley (Ian McIntosh).
The musical is set to well known familiar hits of the 1980s such as the very memorable Up, Where We Belong and also other hits including Heart of Glass, Alone, Material Girl, I Was Made for Lovin’ You and The Final Countdown.
An Officer and a Gentleman, the Musical contains themes of an adult nature and looks further into individuals and their societal backgrounds. Their circumstances give them impetus to better themselves and prove others wrong that anything is possible if one puts their mind and heart to it. The role of women is looked into and how Casey Seegar (Keisha Atwell) becomes the first women ever to become a Navy officer and how Mayo (Fines) defies odds to eventually be given an assignment in the Navy. The musical numbers link well to the story and the characters.
The musical certainly entertains but offers the audience to think beyond the themes raised with the feelings of pessimism and reality but also optimism and hope. Foster has certainly put this production creativity well with familiar hits and a story which parallels can be drawn in today’s society. There are longer pauses between some of the scenes/musical numbers in the production which could be minimised and flow smoother. One must remember that the production is very young and such technicalities will no doubt be continuously reviewed. It is a feel good show with stunning sets with visual backdrops and the talented cast and creative team have put on such an enjoyable show. One of the highlights is certainly the fantastic finale which is received very well by the audience – evident with the standing ovations at the very end.
An Officer and a Gentleman, the Musical is a show for a good night out and certainly a must for a 1980s music fan