MusicalNorth East & YorkshireReview

An Officer and a Gentleman – Theatre Royal Newcastle

Reviewer: Winifred Wynn

Book: Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen

Director: Nikolai Foster

It was a hot and humid evening as a packed house at the Theatre Royal Newcastle awaited the arrival of An Officer and a Gentleman.

On entering the auditorium the audience were greeted with very loud pre curtain sound bites of adverts and news items of the time. This reviewer was unsure as to why as it didn’t seem relevant to what was to follow.

An Officer and a Gentleman is an iconic film of 1982. This musical, of the same name, is based on this eighties film. This is not a film that your reviewer had seen so this musical was to be viewed with no pre conceptions.

It tells the story of officer candidates from various backgrounds and their journey to complete the course to become fully fledged naval officers. The recruits are warned about the local girls who want to marry naval officers and escape their hum drum factory life.

This is a musical packed with eighties music from the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Blondie, Bon Jovi and many more. It’s a love story that unfolds as you see the recruits put through their paces by a dynamic drill sergeant, Emil Foley played by Jamal Crawford. This was an outstanding performance by Crawford who held the first act together with his slick dialogue.

The staging is clever with a simple industrial set, designed by Michael Taylor, that slips seamlessly from one scene to another and there are many short scenes.

The choreographed dance numbers (Joanna Goodwin) were wonderfully executed as were the fight scenes.

Tonight the understudy Julia Jones portrayed the role of Lynette with her powerful voice pleasing the audience. Her relationship with Paula played by Georgia Lennon was excellent. Zack Mayo, played by Luke Baker, is the love interest of Paula. Baker and Lennon’s duet I want to Know Where Love Is is powerful and one of the stand out numbers in the show.

Another powerful performance was rendered by Melanie Masson as Esther Pokrifki, Paula’s mother. Her outstanding portrayal of I Am Woman leaves you breathless.

Although this is a love story there are some dark themes and issues. Sid Worley, played by Paul French, give us a naturalistic character development as he takes us through many emotions of despair, love and trauma. A remarkably believable characterisation.

This cast is strong and highly talented but it is a very disjointed production with lots of short scenes. It is packed with eighties music which this reviewer felt got in the way of a beautiful love story. The story line is too slow and interest waned, especially during the first act.

If you are a lover of eighties music then this is the show for you. The plot however is very light weight and at times could be more emotionally challenging. The pace is too slow due to the continual interruption of numerous, unnecessary songs. This production should have pulled at the heart strings more if only the intimate scenes hadn’t been rushed in order, it would seem, to accommodate more songs.

The audience tonight did enjoy the final scene with the rendition of Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong and Paula being lifted up high by Zack. This too was rushed. It’s always good to end on a high but it didn’t quite make up for what had gone before.

This is an evening of nostalgic eighties jukebox music with a dynamic, talented cast, but is at times frustratingly slow paced. There are just too many songs interrupting a beautiful story line.

Runs until Saturday 18th May

The Reviews Hub Score

Romantic, Nostalgic, Musical

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The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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One Comment

  1. This show was fantastic, not slow paced at all, it was just like the movie, the 80s songs were superb and the talent the actors and actresses had with singing and dancing and fitness was sublime. It tugged at the heart strings when it meant to and the finish gave me goosebumps. What a great Thursday night out

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