An Officer and a Gentleman, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review:
*** 3 Stars
“Continues to lift us up where we belong ”
Love Lifts us up where we belong, so the lyrics go of the hit song from the 1982 smash hit movie “An Officer and a Gentleman” written by Douglas Day Stewart. Stewart is back with a new musical adaptation of the film that was based on true events.
Telling the story of Zack Mayo (Jonny Fines), a United States Navy Aviation Officer Candidate who is beginning his training at Aviation Officer Candidate School. While Zack meets his first true girlfriend during his training, a local young woman named Paula Pokrifki (Emma Williams), he also comes into conflict with the hard-driving Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Ray Shell.), the drill instructor training his class. There are also sub stories of the candidates striving to reach their dreams whilst confronting the realities of life.
This production retains all the charm of the rom com movie original and throws into the mix a juke box full of 80’s hits and that is where it becomes over loaded with cheesiness. Some songs simply don’t fit into the story for instance Bon Jovi’s “Livin on a prayer” opens act two and features because the characters are having fun at a karaoke night in the local bar, it like several songs don’t advance the plot in any meaningful way. That said every single number in the show is performed with gusto by both the cast and band respectively.
There are songs that do stand out, “Girls just wanna have fun” is delivered with vocal prowess by Emma Williams and Jessica Daley (who delivers a strong character as the selfish bitch Lynette Pomeroy). Daley also turns in a fine rendition of “Material Girl”. Carrying the show in the lead role of Zak, Jonny Fines is every inch the Officer with a stunning physical form and a great watch ability you just can’t help but fall under his and the show enchantment as he arrives in the brilliant white uniform to sweep his girl of her feet to the strains of “Love lifts us up” a song whose tune is used several times during the show as a tease for the big finish.
This is not a production for the younger family with several raunchy moments and some fruity language too, but it works to the benefit of the show, sometimes its nice to get a show aimed away from kids to the age group the 80’s movie original cast its spell upon.
Stylistically its an inventive set design and costume plot from Michael Taylor but it really does require the wonderful video design of Douglas O’Connell to truly bring it to life, added to the ever-stunning lighting design of Ben Cracknell the production side of the show excels. There were a couple of sound issues on open night and on more than one occasion it sounded as though we were hearing the techies in the wings as opposed to the performers on stage a rare occurrence indeed.
Director Nikolai Foster has delivered the best for the show as Screen to stage adaptations are often tricky especially if the film original is held, and much loved in high regard. Douglas Day Stewart’s script does stand the test of time but the addition of such a mixed bag of songs doesn’t enhance it but more brings back the wonderful memories of visiting the cinema to see that movie and for that it must be applauded.
As the white military dressed solider sweeps the girl off her feet as the curtain falls you just give over to the charm of the show and that alone means this is a worth a night in the theatre were the eagles fly on a mountain high, An Officer and A Gentleman continues to lift us up where we belong.
An Officer and a Gentleman The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 7th July. For Tickets go to: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/an-officer-and-a-gentleman-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/