An Officer and a Gentleman: The Musical is a pacey jukebox musical (3 stars)

Review: An Officer and a Gentleman: The Musical

The 1980s film classic gets a musical theatre makeover mixing the original story with 80s hits

For the young recruits in An Officer and a Gentleman, life falls into two distinct halves: before they train to be a naval officer and after. Much the same could be said for this musical adaptation of the 1982 film – because before and after the interval almost feels like two different shows.

Throughout, this is a pacey juke box musical, bringing together over 20 hit songs from the 1980s. They've all been re-arranged and given their own unique slant to tie-in with the narrative – Status Quo's 'In The Army Now' reborn as 'In The Navy Now' being the most obvious example.

But after the scene-setting of Act One, in which loveable rogue Zack Mayo (Richard Gere in the film) fails to impress hard-nosed training sergeant Emil Foley, but wins over local factory worker, Paula Pokrifki, Act Two takes us into far more emotive territory. The acting steps up a pace, too – to the point where you're almost wishing you were watching this in a more intimate setting.

It is what it is, however – a big musical playing big theatres, attempting to convey how small people feel when confronted by the challenges of everyday life. And it's in the dark corners of those challenges that this show really takes off.

Ian McIntosh singing Hall Oates' 'Family Man', as he takes his broken heart and a leather belt into a lonely motel room with tragic intentions, is truly gut-wrenching. Similarly, Emma Williams (Paula) belting out Heart's epic love anthem, 'Alone', when she feels Zack slipping through her fingers, packs a powerful punch.

But the tears-in-the-eyes moment for most will come when Jonny Fines (Zack), newly qualified in his officer uniform, sweeps Paula off her feet to the strains of that song ('Up Where We Belong' for those too young to know) and walks out of the factory. A feminist nightmare were it not for the fact that Paula had clearly saved him in every other way several scenes earlier.

Touring around the UK until Sat 15 Sep.

An Officer and a Gentleman: The Musical

Musical based on the Oscar-winning film starring Richard Gere. With direction by Nikolai Foster, choreography by Kate Prince and musical supervision by Tony Award-winning Sarah Travis.

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