Reviewed by Kim Bickerdike
This theatre production is based on the 1982 classic film starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger. I was excited to how the film was translated onto the stage and overall I was pleased with how this romantic story was given an entertaining and upbeat new lease of life.
The first act set the scene of how Zack Mayo (played by Jonny Fines) and his friend Sid Worley (played by Ian McIntosh) join the Navy to pursue their dreams of becoming a United States Navy Aviation Officer. Zack has had a troubled past and was brought up by his hard-drinking, womanising sailor father (played by Darren Bennett) after his mother committed suicide. His dream is to be a pilot in the US Navy. Sid comes from a completely difference background to Zack but soon realises he joined the Officer Training Program out of a sense of obligation to his family, especially to the older brother who died as a Naval Officer, and he Drops On Request, “DOR”s meaning he voluntarily resigns.
Zack and Sid also have love interests and they too have their own storylines. Paula Pokrifki (played by Emma Williams) and Lynette Pomeroy (played by Jessica Daley) work in a factory and both have very different dreams, Paula also works part time in the local hospital and is determined to become a nurse whereas Lynette dreams of marrying a Naval Aviator and believes that marriage is her only ticket out of current situation. The story follows their very different journeys as their relationships with Zack and Sid develop and there are a couple of raunchy moments which might not be appropriate for younger audience members.
The staging of this performance was varied and brilliant, there was a wonderfully smooth transition between the different sets including the Naval Aviation Training Facility, Pensacola Paper Factory and The Tides Inn Motel. I couldn’t count how many set changes there were but each one was carried out skilfully.
Lots of 80s pop classics including ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’, ‘Material Girl’ and ‘The Final Countdown’ were peppered throughout this performance which had members of the audience singing along. Each rendition was performed in an individual and unique way and as much as I love an 80s pop song, I’m not sure if this production required a cheesy pop element to be included, although they were performed passionately by the cast.
The second act started off in TJs bar with Lynette providing a karaoke performance of ‘Livin on a Prayer’ this was a high energy performance which set the tempo for the second half. The second act was certainly more action packed and fast paced than the first and featured many classic and memorable scenes including the dunker crash-escape exercise, suicide, a fake pregnancy, marriage proposal and the first female in Navy history to graduate and go on to train as a jet pilot.
The highlight of this performance was the finale when Sid descends the stairs of the factory where Paula works to whisk her off her feet. Zack carries Paula off into the sunset while the soundtrack of the original film ‘Up Where We Belong’ is performed brilliantly by all the girls working in the factory. This was the most memorable part of the night, the audience too seemed to enjoy this scene as rapturous applause and cheering rang out around the theatre.
Overall, I enjoyed this adaptation and the enthusiastic applause provided by the audience was well deserved.
Liverpool Empire is an easily accessible theatre. We normally travel by train but due to the recent change to the train timetable we decided to drive. We parked in Q-Park Queen Square car park which is a 5 minute walk and costs £ to park after 5pm. The car park is well lit and was used by plenty of other theatre goers. We will definitely use this car park again.
Tickets cost from £13 to £68.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
An Officer and a Gentleman The Musical is at the Liverpool Empire from 21-26 May 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/liverpool or call the box office on 0844 8713017.
Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE | 0844 8713017