An Officer and a Gentleman at Theatre Royal Brighton | Review

The Hollywood “romantic drama” movie was released in 1982 with a screenplay by Douglas Day Stewart, based on his experiences of training as a Naval Aviation Officer in the 1960s.

Georgia Lennon as Paula Pokrifki in An Officer and a Gentleman, credit Marc Brenner.
Georgia Lennon as Paula Pokrifki in An Officer and a Gentleman. Credit Marc Brenner.

In 2012 the “musical” version opened in Sydney, Australia where it closed after six weeks, one review calling it a “bloodless facsimile” of the film! This staging used a newly composed score rather than that of the movie.

Nothing daunted, the show received its first British production at The Curve, Leicester in 2018, the director, Nikolai Foster, replacing the original score not with songs used in the film, but with more than twenty “pop” numbers from the 1980s such as It’s a Man’s Man’s World, Bon Jovi’s ‘Blaze of Glory’ and Mike Oldfield’s ‘Family Man’, so it is, to all intents and purposes, a “Juke Box” show!

Six years later, it is this production which is now touring!

It tells the story of Zack Mayo (Luke Baker) who is beginning his training at Officer Cadet School. Whilst Zack meets his first true girlfriend, a young ‘townie’ called Paula (Georgia Lennon), he also comes into conflict with his trainer Gunnery Sergeant Foley (Jamal Kane Crawford), as well as befriending another trainee Sid Worley (Danny Whelan) and his friend Lynette Pomeroy (Julia Jones).

The production benefits greatly from a striking set designed by Michael Taylor using black steel frames, girders and wire mesh to enclose the large acting area; a tall metal staircase with landings gives several more intimate areas as well as height and space when the whole company of about twenty is on stage. This is evocatively lit by Ben Cracknell so that scenes not only flow seamlessly into each other but also have an atmospheric feel to them, even if smoke effects are over-used!

The highly talented ensemble cast works very hard to put over the, at times, rather stilted dialogue, Baker, especially being very impressive, not only because he is believable in role, but also because he is a very physical actor and watchable. Georgia Lennon has an unusual but very attractive singing voice and comes into her own in the second half where she is allowed to develop her role. Danny Whelan manages to get some motivation into his role in spite of the script and Julia Jones is superb as Lynette. Not only does she possess a very attractive singing voice, she easily convinces us that she is not all she seems, being willing to do almost anything to get out of life’s drudgery.

It is a shame that the director obviously told Crawford (Foley) to shout all his lines as this takes away his humanity and is wearisome on the ear. On the rare occasions, he is ‘allowed’ to act rather than just blustering he is so much more effective and believable.

In fact, the whole show is VERY loud, the dialogue being amplified so that any attempt at realism is quashed (sound design Tom Marshall).

The five-piece guitar and keyboard-based band under the leadership of Christopher Duffy gives sterling support from the pit, there being much underscoring as well as songs, so that they appear to be playing for most of the show – rarely is there quiet!

From their reaction at curtain call the audience at Brighton’s Theatre Royal clearly enjoyed An Officer and a Gentleman – the Musical, showing great appreciation of the cast’s undoubted energy and commitment.

4 stars

Review by John Groves

Upcoming Booking Dates

23 – 27 April
Brighton Theatre Royal

30 April – 4 May
Manchester Opera House

6 – 11 May
Stoke Regent Theatre

13 – 18 May Newcastle Theatre Royal 0191 232 7010
www.theatreroyal.co.uk

27 May – 1 June
Oxford New Theatre

4 – 8 June
York Grand Opera House

17 – 22 June Sheffield Lyceum 0114 249 6000
www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

25 – 29 June Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre 02380 711811
www.mayflower.org.uk

2 – 6 July
Torquay Princess Theatre

8 – 13 July Canterbury Marlowe 01227 787787
www.marlowetheatre.com

16 – 20 July Southend Cliffs Pavilion
www.thecliffspavilion.co.uk

22 – 27 July
Liverpool Empire Theatre

29 July – 3 August Nottingham Theatre Royal 0115 989 5555
trch.co.uk

5 – 10 August
Woking New Victoria Theatre

12 – 17 August Leicester Curve 0116 242 3595
www.curveonline.co.uk

20 – 24 August Truro Hall for Cornwall 01872 262466
www.hallforcornwall.co.uk

2 – 7 September
Bristol Hippodrome

10 – 14 September Ipswich Regent Theatre
www.ipswichtheatres.co.uk

17 – 21 September Eastbourne Congress 01323 412 000
www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk

23 – 28 September Wolverhampton Grand 01902 429212
www.grandtheatre.co.uk

1 – 5 October Blackpool Opera House
www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk

8 – 12 October Aberdeen His Majesty’s Theatre 01224 641122
www.aberdeenperformingarts.com

21 – 26 October
Milton Keynes Theatre

28 October – 2 November Bromley Churchill Theatre 0343 310 0020
www.churchilltheatre.co.uk

4 – 9 November Hull New Theatre 01482 300 306
www.hulltheatres.co.uk

1 thought on “An Officer and a Gentleman at Theatre Royal Brighton | Review”

  1. Mr richard j inverarity

    Best musical I have seen this year.Whole cast were exceptional… The vocals were sublime and the cast were so energetic.I recommended every one to see the show as their life will feel so much better after all the brilliance.

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