I have to admit I was pretty sceptical going to see An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical, at the Wales Millennium Centre. “Really?” I thought, another 80s classic film being shoe horned onto the stage. “Why?, Just Why?”
But, thankfully, I am relieved to say, I really did enjoy it. That’s not to say that An Officer and a Gentleman has crept its way into my list of all time favourite musicals. Far from it. But I can not deny that it was a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Massively in part because it features so many 80’s classics. Songs such as Alone, Toy Soldiers and Living on a Prayer, to name just a few of the 22 which feature.
Most people will no doubt be familiar with the famous 1982 film. In which a (very) handsome Richard Gere swoops Debra Winger off her feet. But of course there is more to the film than just that iconic scene. There is an undercurrent theme of an uneven class system and backward womens rights set against a hope and willingness to graft for a better future. And now for the corny bit, it is also about accepting that friendship and love is more important than anything else.
A review of An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical
The musical, as with the film, centres on the love affair between Naval Trainee Officer Zack Mayo (Jonny Fines) and factory worker Paula Pokrifi (Emma Williams).
Mayo enters as an arrogant young man about to start his training to become a Navy Pilot. Here he comes into conflict with the hard task master Sergeant Emil Foley (Ray Shell) who puts him and the other trainees through their paces. Foley, seeing the potential in Mayo, or “Mayonnaise” as he is nicknamed, is even tougher on him. Continually pushing him to the brink to see whether he will fail under the pressure. But before he succeeds, Mayo needs to learn that the world does not evolve around him. To be both an Officer and a Gentleman he needs to start putting others first.
The whole cast are flawless, from the central characters of Zack and Paula to their friends; the privileged and yet troubled Sid (Ian Mcintosh) and his desperate girl Lynette (Jessica Daley). Shell is also superb as the shouty sergeant. In fact all roles are played brilliantly.
The musical score really helps make the show a success. The songs Its a Man’s Man’s World sung by the factory workers is fantastic. So too is the very gritty version of Kids in America. In fact, its difficult to not sing along to most of them, which are all sung with gusto and impeccable vocals.
The stage setting and choreography worked well with a backdrop of pre-recorded films giving extra context. The scenes of the navy training, the backdrop of the sea outside the hotel room and the whole background story of Zack and his alcoholic father shown on the huge screens was genius. The blue sky background where they walk off into the sunset was a little too cheesy but I’m prepared to forgive them for that.
I have to say I’ve read mixed reviews about the Officer and a Gentleman Musical. Some slating it for being out of date with todays society. But then it would be, as the film was set over 35 years ago. They have also stated that it is not as emotional or gritty as the film. Yes I agree, the musical is a lot lighter than the film, but then on the basis that the characters suddenly burst into song, then surely that’s a given. And here of course is the danger with the whole film to musical trend. You just can’t help but to compare the two, and of course for many females going to watch it, can anyone else really live up to Richard Gere in a uniform?
Our verdict of an Officer and a Gentleman the Musical:
If you are prepared to leave the comparisons at the door, you’ll be rewarded with a somewhat corny feel good musical, which is packed with fantastic songs and that has a cast that does each and every song justice. I certainly left with a smile on my face, and the cast deserved the full-house standing ovation that they received. Bravo – I salute you!
An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical is showing at the WMC until Saturday 30 June 2018
Tickets from £18.00
Age Guidance – 12+
Booking at: www.wmc.org.uk
Thank you to Wales Millennium Centre for inviting us to the opening night An Officer and a Gentleman
All photos are stock photos.