Saturday, April 13

An Officer and a Gentleman – New Wimbledon Theatre

Based on the award-winning movie of the 1980s and featuring a soundtrack with hits from Madonna, Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper and Blondie, An Officer and a Gentleman bursts into their tour run as a must-see, feel-good romance which will leave your heart fulfilled.

This is the emotional story of Zack Mayo (Luke Baker), a young officer candidate with a dark past, and his captivating love interest Paula Pokrifki (Georgia Lennon), who bonded over their zest for life and fiery spirits. The plot also centres around Zack’s right-hand man on the Officer Candidate School (AOCS) course, Sid (Paul French) and his sweetheart Lynette (Sinead Long) navigating their newly formed romance.

The set in this production immediately stands out and is hard to believe that it belongs to a tour production. Large metal structures are used to create a backdrop of the factory where the women work and the naval camp, neon lighting added to depict a fairground or bar. Clever staging is used with a moving metal staircase to depict different locations and help to portray heightened moments in the book. Minimal props are used effectively throughout the production and have multiple uses, including to enhance the set.

The strong opening of this performance ‘In The Navy Now’ sets the tone for the rest of the show. The story told in the intertwined dialogue helps to launch the audience straight into the action. While the introduction of the officer candidates feels slightly long winded, it is clear by the conclusion of the second Act why this takes up a little more time, as the character arcs between the candidates and Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Jamal Kane Crawford), who is finally able to show a little emotion, is moving and heartfelt.

The ensemble is an enormous part of this production and are able to showcase their talent. The performance of ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ by the females on stage sends shivers down your spine from the opening line. Melanie Masson, in particular, is a joy to watch and her presence in every scene is invaluable. This number and the female ensemble sequences give a chance for each female cast member to showcase their vocal ranges and talent. Their collective harmonies are a delight for the senses, demonstrated once again in ‘I Am Woman’ where the female empowerment is beautifully palpable on stage.

The duet between Zack and Byron (Tim Rogers) ‘Blaze Of Glory’ is a real highlight of the first Act. With sublime vocalisation and harmonies, it’s an enjoyable interaction to showcase the power balance between father and son, aided by clever blocking. Luke Baker’s vocal range and tone fits the role of a leading man perfectly.

The slight lack of chemical storyline between the two leads is made up for between the other leading couple Sid (Paul French) and Lynette (Sinead Long). French and Long expertly portray a whirlwind romance that the audience can root for. In ‘Material Girl’, Long gives a flawless performance vocally and artistically manages the tough choreography. French solos in ‘Family Man’ giving a captivatingly powerful and moving performance. Paired with Baker’s reaction to the unexpected events, this scene is heartbreaking and memorable.

At times some scenes feel incongruent to the story and rushed. Some artistic choices to classic hits such as ‘Kids In America’ and ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ are interesting but feel a little bit flat and underwhelming. However, the opening of the second Act ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ was a perfect punch of energy. Another special moment is the number ‘When The Going Gets Tough’. The ensemble coming together performing the choreography and having fun on stage mixed with Seegar’s solo (Olivia Foster-Browne) is a beautifully memorable combination.

Ultimately, this show has your typical musical theatre sequences, paired with a catchy soundtrack and a talented and dynamic cast making for a fun, heart-warming and surprisingly emotional journey.

An Officer and a Gentleman is now touring the UK until 9th November 2024, with more information and tickets to be found at: https://officerandagentlemanthemusical.com/  

Reviewer: Maani Way

Reviewed: 2nd April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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