An Officer And A Gentleman
Photos by Manuel Harlan
Not quite up there - yet
My daughter said it feels like we have been to a dress rehearsal…
We went actually to the opening night of An Officer And a Gentleman The Musical at the Bristol Hippodrome on Monday, July 30.
That is not to say it wasn’t good, but it was never going to compete with the 1982 award winning film of the same name starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett Jr.
The original screenplay written by Douglas Day Stewart is based on his own experiences of naval training.
It is difficult to pinpoint why this show doesn't totally work.
The big voices are brilliant, the big set amazing and it has so far had rave reviews BUT for all its muscle it lacked dynamism in the way of say Wicked or Miss Saigon and the fault lies I feel with the choreography.
There is too much standing statues or aimless walking around on stage and lots of placing and removal of props.
The two father figures – one a Naval drunkard the other a Polish grump - and the nothing-much-to-do management men at the card factory didn’t impact but with a few tweaks it could be perfect.
This is a new touring production and once you got your head around the lead was blond and his sidekick darker it had all the right ingredients, but while the story was busy the stage wasn’t.
I add here this is a minority view as the standing ovation at the end demonstrated.
I also overheard on the way out one fan saying, ‘definitively in my top three’.
An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical stays close to the film script and perhaps this is a mistake.
Its ‘screensaver’ backdrop is of a collage of iconic 1980s moments include a photo of Michael Jackson, Phil Collins and Ronald Reagan back in the day.
The romantic drama tells the story of poor boy Zack Mayo (Jonny Fines) a US navy aviation officer candidate and follows his trials and tribulations from tough childhood to first love and beyond.
It is all about friendship, trust and relationships.
Love interest Emma Williams (Paula Pokrifki) and bad girl Jessica Daley (Lynette Pomeroy) are fabulous with older women Rachel Stanley (Esther Pokrifki) and Corinna Powlesland (Aunt Bunny) equal scene stealers.
Marine drill sergeant Emil Foley (Ray Shell) is excellent and the military class of ’82 all add individual character.
I loved Ian Macintosh portrayal of Sid Worley and Zack carrying off his lifeless body was a tearjerker.
The technical touches - writing equations on a blackboard like Curious Incident Of A Dog In The Night-Time and explosive pyrotechnics – plus the projected backdrops are effective however would a cheap motel room have a panoramic ocean view?
Okay, I am being picky.
Joining the military was a way out from the ghetto but aspiring to become an officer is a step too far for many.
Warning: This show has adult themes, some nudity and crude speech/gestures including a penis extension motorbike.
We hear the ‘steers and queers’ jab at Oklahoma/Alabama cowboys twice, see rather a lot of floppy white Y-fronts and Miss Williams’ bare thighs during thrusting jiggy-jiggy moments.
The physicality was well portrayed in the assault course simulation, but the boxing bout could have been more Kung-Fu fighting and it took me a while to realise the bar scene was actually in a bar…
The musical includes the hit song from the movie Up Where We Belong and 80s classics Alone, Don’t Cry Out Loud, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Toy Soldiers and Material Girl and features one of the most iconic romantic scenes ever portrayed on screen.
These appears to have been shoehorned into this show but are save by strong vocals and harmony from the cast.
Did Debra Winger really walk off into the sunset carrying Richard Gere?
Woke up this morning to the hit song Up Where We Belong reverberating in my head but unfortunately Mr Gere had vacated my bed - tra-la-la.
I need to get out more...
Tickets from £19.40 by clicking HERE.
PREVIEW: Can you believe it they have made a musical of the most marvellous love story An Officer And A Gentleman - wow.
This brand-new musical is based on the 1982 Oscar-winning film starring Richard Gere which tells the story of Zack Mayo who is in training to become a US Navy Pilot. When Zack rolls into boot camp with a bit too much of a swagger, drill Sergeant Foley doesn’t make life easy for him.
When he falls for local girl Paula Pokrifki and tragedy befalls his friend and fellow candidate, Zack realises the importance of love and friendship and finds the courage to be himself and win the heart of the woman he loves. It’s only then he can truly become both an Officer And A Gentleman.
The musical includes the hit song from the movie Up Where We Belong and 80s classics Alone, Don’t Cry Out Loud, ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun, ‘oy Soldiers and Material Girl and features one of the most iconic romantic scenes ever portrayed on screen.
An Officer And A Gentleman is one of the highest grossing films of all time.
The screenplay by writer and director Douglas Day Stewart is based on his personal experience as a Naval Officer Candidate.
The book was co-written by Douglas and Sharleen Cooper Cohen.
Producer Jamie Wilson said: “I am thrilled to be presenting An Officer And A Gentleman - the musical and working once again with Chris Stafford, Nikolai Foster and the team at curve.
"For the past three years we have been working on bringing this memorable and iconic story to the stage, and hope that this new adaptation becomes as loved as the film.”
Jamie Wilson is the lead producer on the current productions of Crazy For You, the forthcoming world premiere of Nativity! The Musical and Curve’s production of Sister Act.
Curve artistic director Nikolai Foster said, “An Officer and a Gentleman delicately charts the lives of working class, military folk in America in the early 1980s; important lives, often pushed to the margins of society."
It plays Bristol from Monday to Saturday, July 30-August, 20.