REVIEW - An Officer and a Gentleman at Birmingham's Alexandra is 'more jukebox than jubilant' - The Redditch Standard

REVIEW - An Officer and a Gentleman at Birmingham's Alexandra is 'more jukebox than jubilant'

Redditch Editorial 27th Feb, 2024   0

IT IS always exciting to see new work being launched and at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre, there was quite a buzz in the packed auditorium on press night as the curtain went up for ‘An Officer and a Gentleman – the Musical’

To be fair, this original ‘Curve’ production is a reworking, not a new show – it has re-emerged a couple of times before and always to mixed opinions, each time in search of the golden bullet. This is the first stage version I have personally seen.

It started life of course in 1982 as a mega movie hit starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger.

The book for the stage version is by Douglas Day Stewart (who also penned the film screenplay) and Sharleen Cooper Cohen.

It’s directed by the Curve’s Artistic Director Nikolai Foster, the Choreographer is Joanna Goodwin and Designer Michael Taylor.




The show has a catalogue of classic numbers including ‘Kids In America’ ‘Heart of Glass’ and ‘Material Girl’ – plus of course the legendary ‘Up Where We Belong’.

The plot concerns Zack Mayo (Luke Baker) a wannabe trainee American navy jet pilot from a broken background and his induction time at Port Ranier Naval Base.


Zack meets and immediately locks horns with disciplinarian drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Jamal Crawford). Foley lays down the rules that any cadets not cutting the mental or physical mustard will be dismissed – or they can quit themselves by just ringing the ‘enough is enough – it’s all too tough’ bell. He also warns that local girls are on a mission to hook a naval trainee as a husband – so always carry a condom!

Zack makes chums with fellow recruit Sid Worley (Paul French) and they in turn meet factory girls Paula Pokrifki (Georgia Lennon) and Lynette Pomeroy (Sinead Long) at a dance and ignore Foley’s warnings.

There is also a back-story of the first female navy jet pilot recruit Casey Seegar (Olivia Foster-Browne) who struggles to make the cut in a man’s world.

Everyone acts with competency but on the singing side it’s at its best when the females are chorusing – outside of this it gets a bit screechy.

To be fair, the stage show will never be able to compare visually with the movie for obvious reasons – but it could certainly do better in the storytelling grittiness than is offered up in this production. Making it into a jukebox musical does not help – the story’s soul becomes watered down and irrelevant.

‘The Bodyguard’ is a phenomenon that has seamlessly gone from screen to stage but despite the huge talents of the Curves creative team whom I greatly admire, like previous attempts, the same cannot be said for ‘An Officer and a Gentleman.’ I was left nebulous – and in theatre, that’s not the best place to be.

It undoubtedly though has its followers and the impressive walkdown had many of them on their feet.

An Officer and a Gentleman runs until March 2. Click here for times, tickets and more information.

 

***

Review by Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews

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