Reviewed by Linda Curtain
Last evening was the opening night of a week long run of “An Officer and A Gentleman – The Musical” at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. It is great to see a new musical version of this iconic film here in Plymouth.
Plymouth’s Theatre Royal is renowned for staging superb plays and musicals and an evening there is always enjoyable. Situated in the centre of Plymouth on Royal Parade, the theatre is easy to access by bus or car and several nearby car parks mean that parking is seldom a problem.
On arriving early last evening, I was surprised how busy the theatre already was – evidently a lot of people were interested to see how the 80’s film had transferred to stage.
Based on Douglas Day Stewart’s 1982 Oscar winning film starring Richard Gere, the storyline tells of navy recruit Zach Mayo’s quest to train as a U.S. Navy pilot. Through a steep learning curve, Zach realises the importance of love and friendship in order to become an officer and a gentleman. Contrast this to the mundane lives of the factory girls with dreams of escaping their poorly paid jobs by sleeping with or maybe marrying one of the potential officers and you have the basis of the story.
There were many strong characters who played their roles brilliantly. Ray Shell, as the drill sergeant Emil Foley, certainly took his role well, putting all the recruits through their paces and ensuring only the best survived their intense training period. Keisha Atwell, as Casey Seegar – the only female recruit, showed how determination could let her enter a predominately man’s world. Emma Williams excelled in the role of Paula showing such a combination of desperation, pride and self-dignity. She has a great vocal range and the duet – Don’t cry out loud – with her mother Esther (played by Rachel Stanley) was certainly a show highlight. Jonny Fines as lead role Zack Mayo certainly worked hard to step into Richard Gere’s shoes and was very convincing and dedicated to the role. He showed a good range of emotions and determination to succeed.
With 22 great 80’s songs, from Jessica Daley’s rendition of ‘Material Girl’ to her duet with Ian Mcintosh of ‘Living on a Prayer’, the hits kept coming. Unfortunately, last evening there seemed to be some sound issues. At times the music was so loud, the cast seemed to be shouting to over-ride the music.
For everyone awaiting the iconic ending, the theatre production did not disappoint. Zach appeared in his pristine white officer’s uniform to carry Emma away to strains of ‘Up Where We Belong’ to the delight of the Plymouth audience.
A great, feel good musical which transports you back to the 80’s when maybe we all had dreams of being swept away by an Officer and a Gentleman!
Tickets cost from £16 to £45 (booking fees may apply).
An Officer and a Gentleman is at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 20-25 August 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.theatreroyal.com or call the box office on 01752 267222.
Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, PL1 2TR | 01752 267222