An Officer And A Gentleman – The Musical
Leicester Curve Touring to Sep 15, 2hrs 25mins
This is the musical of the 1982 weepie starring Richard Gere as the bolshie navy pilot who at the end famously scoops Debra Winger’s factory girl off her feet to the strains of Up Where We Belong.
Taylor Hackford’s film is not as corny as is often made out, though. In fact it’s surprisingly gritty and erotic. The story of the two youngsters from the wrong side of the tracks falling in love over 13 weeks without either quite admitting to it is oddly compelling.
Paula is a factory worker looking for a better life, Zack just wants to fly jets. But the film’s blend of romance and Reagan-era, blue-collar tawdriness – it includes a suicide – is swamped here by its choreography and a succession of more than 20 orchestrated Eighties hits, including Material Girl, Kids In America, Girls Just Want To Have
Fun and The Final Countdown. None of the music does the play, co-adapted by original screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart, any good. Director Nikolai Foster does, however, extract two decent lead performances from Jonny Fines as Zack and Emma Williams as Paula.
There’s also an expanded role for the only female recruit, here feistily played by Keisha Atwell.
Ray Shell is certainly mean enough as the hard-ass navy training instructor Foley but he’s too old for the part and the set-piece fight between him and Zack is embarrassing.
A toe-tapper for those who want to be smilingly reminded of the movie, its crisp, white navy uniforms and its era. But if you are looking for any real depth of emotion, then this doesn’t get airborne.
Emma Williams as Paula and Jonny Fines as Zack