by Julie Wallis twitter.com/nicenic63
An Officer and a Gentleman at Birmingham Hippodrome
As a brand new production, An Officer and a Gentleman the musical is at Birmingham Hippodrome all this week, having had its world premiere only last month.
I’m a little ashamed to say I have never seen the movie of the same name, but my husband (my plus one for the evening) reassured me that this live production wasn’t missing any elements of the movie, although the fight scenes were a little less violent.
The plot, for those who don’t know is about young men training to be navy officers (and Gentleman) and they are warned by Sergeant Emil Foley (Ray Shell) that a lot of the local women view these trainee officers as a way out of the drudgery and poverty that is all their home town has to offer. Of course, the young trainees do start relationships with the local womenfolk and of course some of the girls are only interested in feathering their own nest, but when Zack Mayo (Jonny Fines) falls in love with local girl Paula (Emma Williams), Is it true love? Or is she just after capturing herself an Officer and a Gentleman.
The story is set in a naval aviation training facility in 1982 and the soundtrack is just like the 1980s, it’s big, it’s loud and it’s colourful. With hit after hit, such as Girls just wanna have fun, Living on a Prayer, The Final Countdown, and of course the final scene which plays out to Golden Globe and Oscar winning original song from the film version of An officer and a Gentleman – Up Where We Belong.
Jonny Fines and Emma Williams as Zach and Paula have a lovely chemistry together on stage, particularly when they sing together. I especially liked them singing I Was Made For Loving You with Sid and Lynette. Sid, (Ian McIntosh) has a beautiful singing voice, I really enjoy listening to him and the fact that he sings in a whole lot of the soundtrack was just a great bonus. Sid starts a relationship with local girl Lynette (Jessica Daley) and I soon realised that there was only room for one successful love match in An Officer and a Gentleman. Ian McIntosh and Jessica Daley as Sid and Lynette are great together too.
At the end, I don’t think I have ever heard an audience cheer in approval quite so enthusiastically for a stage entrance of a character that had already been on stage all evening. I know this is the defining scene of the whole movie and that comes across in this stage production too. It really did get the audience up on their feet for a standing ovation. This final big scene really gave me the final blast of the ‘feelgood’ factor. An Officer and a Gentleman really is uplifting (excuse the pun!)
This production has a huge cast so obviously I can’t talk about everyone, but I feel I must mention Casey Seeger (Keisha Atwell) who is the only female recruit. Keisha is a great actor and singer who has a wonderful character. Casey definitely had me rooting for her to get over the wall when she was doing her training.
Which brings me on to the physical aspect of An Officer and a Gentleman. This play looks intense. The entire cast work so hard throughout, climbing walls, dropping and giving 40+ push-ups and running around on stage, I’m sure the cast must be exhausted and very fit. There are a few six packs being flashed from time to time too!
The big set changes are swift and the big stage of the Hippodrome works so well for this show.
A wonderfully entertaining evening especially with the great soundtrack which I loved An Officer and a Gentleman is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 19th May. Book tickets here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/an-officer-and-a-gentleman
This isn’t a sponsored post. Julie was invited to see An Officer and a Gentleman for #BrumHour by Birmingham Hippodrome.