Last night I went to watch an Officer and a Gentleman Musical at the Liverpool Empire. Being one of my favourite cheesy films, mainly it has to be said for the stellar performance (ok visual performance) put in by Richard Gere I was fairly sceptical as to how it would live up to the expectations so here is our Officer and a Gentleman Musical Review.
This brand-new musical is based on the 1982 Oscar-winning film starring Richard Gere and tells the story of Zack Mayo (Gere) training to become a US Navy Pilot. Zack turns up to training with a bit too much swagger about him and drill Sergeant Foley starts to whip him into shape. Mayo and local girl Paula Pokrifki start up a relationship but possibly unlike the musical the film is also just as much about his relationship with fellow candidate Sid. The premise behind both the musical and the film is that 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.
Now I’ve seen Officer and a Gentleman a lot! For the acting of course, rather than watching Richard Gere at 30 with often very few clothes on, but I digress. My overwhelming impression of an Officer and a Gentleman musical was that if you hadn’t seen the film then you would have struggled to empathise with the characters in the musical and wouldn’t be carried along with the emotional journey that the film manages to convey. Not wanting to plot spoil at all but I cry at least twice whilst watching the film, once towards the end and then right at the end in that famous lifting scene – in fact the scene you are waiting to see all the way through. Last night whilst watching the musical I wasn’t even close to tears at any point and I can get there fairly quickly, it just hadn’t caught my emotions in that way at all.
Now all that being said I certainly didn’t not like it. As the Officer and a Gentleman musical begins, nostalgic images of Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, E.T, Jimmy Carter and ABC news broadcasts flash up, taking you back to the 1980’s. The musical rips along and whilst the show seems to follow the group of recruits in a naval training college, really it’s the women who steal the show. I love the chorus of This Is A Man’s World, but Emma Williams as Paula Pokrifki, Jessica Daley as Lynette Pomeroy and Rachel Stanley at Esther Pokrifki all have incredible solo moments. Whilst the story about a group of factory women working to the bone and getting paid very little, planning on sleeping with an officer and escaping their plight seems pretty old fashioned in this day and age, I don’t think many could fail to see analogies in 2018.
Some of the eighties song choices that run throughout the musical seem to be a little odd fitting and strangely placed – they actually fit it 23 and could perhaps have chosen slightly less that fit better within the script. However it is a musical that doesn’t take itself too seriously and knows that it’s cheesy. It’s corny but it’s loveable was a heading I saw in a review from The Curve.
The set changes are excellent and always look stylish, but the film scenes that are added in at times didn’t always quite work for those who didn’t know the plot.
The end scene does however give you what you need from the show. The packed theatre gave a standing ovation for the cast on stage who genuinely looked like they had loved their opening night performance at the Liverpool Empire. An Officer and a Gentleman musical runs until Saturday before continuing its UK tour.