MusicalReviewSouth West

An Officer And A Gentleman- Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Reviewer: Beth Steer

Book: Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen

Director: Nikolai Foster

Let’s start by saying that this isn’t a particularly comfortable review to write – but in the interest of being honest, especially for the benefit of anyone who is saving up to buy tickets to a performance as a special treat – it is, unfortunately, necessary.

An Officer and a Gentleman The Musicalis pitted as a ‘timeless story of love, courage, and redemption’ that ‘will make your heart soar and leave you breathless, longing for more’. Based on the award-winning 1980s film of the same name – and peppered throughout with a nostalgic soundtrack (think Madonna, Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper, and Blondie) – the show follows central characters, officer-candidate Zack Mayo (Luke Baker) and love interest Paula Pokrifki (Georgia Lennon), as they get to know each other during his period of military training.

Unfortunately, for both fans of the film and newcomers to the story alike,An Officer and a Gentlemansorely fails to deliver on its promise to invite the audience ‘into a world where dreams and destinies intertwine’. And that’s because, put simply, there is little to no cohesive character development, the plot is paper-thin, and the music, while undeniably comprised of nostalgic 80s hits, bears no connection to the storyline whatsoever.

The result, regrettably, is a show that consists of just over two hours’ of clearly talented performers trying their best with material that is inherently doomed to fail: it’s uninspiring at best, and utterly cringe-worthy at worst.

It feels cruel to dwell on all the areas this show isn’t up to scratch, because the cast attempt to push through the gaps and provide good vocal and dance performances in the face of a disjointed set list and unimaginative choreography. It’s flat, though, and lacking energy – notably, until the final song of the second half, when the relief, for all, feels palpable.

The set is distinctly uninspired – the kind of metal rigging with the odd neon sign that could work wonders with its understated creativityifthe rest of the show was totally captivating. But it’s not. The audio is off several times throughout both halves of the performance, with mics dropping out and confusing sound mixing. The show’s representation of female characters is incredibly problematic, too – but that almost doesn’t warrant going into here.

By the time the interval is reached, the crowd look visibly deflated, clapping half-heartedly and looking around to gauge other’s reactions. None of the usual buzzy chatter takes place between the first and second halves, and one audience member is heard sighing: ‘I suppose they’re trying to do well with what they’ve got?’, while another remarks: ‘it’s okay, I guess. But not great, is it?’

The biggest shame is that the performers themselves are clearly capable of so much more than the writing and direction allow for here. There are glimpses of emotion – albeit during a perplexing suicide scene, which hastily morphs into a toe-tapping performance of The Final Countdown – and the ensemble manage to raise the energy slightly during some of the more upbeat songs. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t cut through the fundamental flaws of An Officer and a Gentleman The Musical.Save your money and watch something else.

Runs until 20th April 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Not really a musical!

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The Reviews Hub - South West

The Southwest team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. 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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