Thursday, July 25

An Officer and a Gentleman – Manchester c

Based on the original screenplay by Douglas Day Stewart, An Officer and a Gentleman the musical is here at the Manchester Opera House as part of its UK tour. Directed by Leicester Curve Artistic director Nikolai Foster, we are treated to a well-rounded piece of theatre which has been well thought out to keep it fresh and smooth with an air of familiarity about it.

The story follows Zack Mayo and his fellow Navy recruits at their training camp in Pensacola, Florida, and their journey through a 12-week programme to try and become Navy Jet pilots. Through rigorous training, we see recruits struggle and fail, leaving the training programme, eventually bringing the other recruits closer together, pushing each other along to reach their final goal. But not everything runs smoothly, and we see the struggles and heartache of these recruits, enduring heartbreak, anxiety struggles and a Sergeant who looks set on breaking these recruits at every turn.

Set in 1982, the story is intertwined with an incredible soundtrack that helps the piece flow along with ease, each song supporting the storyline impeccably with songs like In the Navy Now, When The going Gets Tough, Toy Soldiers, St Elmo’s Fire and of course the song that everyone is waiting for, Up Where We belong.

The cast are incredible and live every second of this piece, delivering some standout performances with great energy and phenomenal vocals. The choreography by Joanna Goodwin brings the piece to life. It is inventive and awe inspiring in places, delivered to an extremely high quality by this hard-working cast.

Luke Baker shines as Mayo, taking us on his journey with fantastic acting choice, world class vocals and full out dancing. Georgia Lennon as Mayo’s love interest Paula Pokrifki is wonderful in the role, showing great emotion and giving the most insane vocals.

Jamal Kane Crawford as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley is everything you want from the character, strict, menacing and there to push his recruits, sometimes a little too far, but you can see there is a heart in there and the final scene between Mayo and Foley is heart-warming.

Paul French as Sid Worley is an absolute joy to watch, opening his heart and soul to the story and delivering a strong, gritty character who takes you on a full journey and leaves you feeling broken by the end, with strong acting choices and a deep connection to the incredibly sung vocals. His relationship with Lynette (played tonight by Julia Jones) is played out extremely well and shows us how the type of relationship between Navy officers and the locals can be, taking the audience on a journey of love but at one point delivering a line that made the audience gasp in shock.

Other stand out cast include Melanie Masson as Esther Pokrifki, Tom Rogers as Mayo’s drunken father Byron Mayo and the mighty Olivia Foster-Browne as the incredible Casey Seegar, another character who goes on a huge journey and Seegar gives everything and has you behind her the whole way.

The set and costumes designed by Michael Taylor are wonderful. Costumes are perfect for the era and give the piece an authentic feeling and the set is inventive, with several moving pieces, moved around by the cast (and occasionally stage crew who I wish were in a costume rather than just all in black) with ease to keep the piece moving smoothly and effortlessly from scene to scene. Lighting by Ben Cracknell is a huge part of this show and is used incredibly well. There were a few moments where some characters were in the dark a little when spotlights weren’t quite in the right place on time, but this can be forgiven with it being their first night in a new venue.

The band, led by Christopher Duffy, sounded wonderful, delivering that brilliant 80’s style bringing the incredible songs to life.

The story takes us on a huge journey and the last couple of minutes round the piece off wonderfully, the part the audience are waiting for and the famous scene from the film, backed by Up Where We Belong, with the White Uniform and the round up to the love story, the audience went wild and it was the perfect end to a great story and the standing ovation by the end was absolutely well deserved by all.

An Officer and a Gentleman runs at the Manchester Opera House until Saturday 4th May 2024 with tickets available at https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/opera-house-manchester/

Reviewer: Damian Riverol

Reviewed: 30th April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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