Theatre Royal Plymouth
Book by Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen
2 hours 35 minutes – one interval
Theatre Royal Plymouth Box Office – 01752 267222
Cormac Richards – 20 August 2018
A confession. I have never seen the film ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’. Nor did I try and see it before I came to this show. A show should be able to stand alone, without the need for too much research into resource material. A large number of (the largely female) audience, did appear to have seen the film and the chatter before hand appeared to be about hoping it would live up to the celluloid version.
This is a production first performed at The Curve in Leicester earlier this year and takes the form of a Jukebox Musical. Here I always have something of a problem. There are many such musicals around, some are really good; ‘Our House’, ‘Mamma Mia’ and others are not so. The problem is that when I whole load of random songs from a particular era (here the 1980s) are shoehorned into a plot, it is the plot that suffers most as the songs rarely take the story forward and so the interruptions for music often add nothing more than spectacle. ‘Our House’ for instance only uses the music of Madness whose songs often tell something of a story within them. Here we have ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’, ‘Heart of Glass’ and ‘Material Girl’ among many others and they really don’t add much.
The plot is straightforward and not without some interest, but the show only allows for a light gloss over the surface. Obviously, the music and songs are a draw to an audience, but sometimes I thought that it would be so much better without and a number of the transitions into the songs are awkward and misplaced.
Not that there was anything wrong with the production in other respects. The music was loud and well played and the songs were delivered well by an energetic cast.
Stepping into the shoes of Richard Gere and Debra Winger in the stage show were Jonny Fines and Emma Williams who are absolutely fine and create decent amount of energy. In the rather more interesting role of Sid, Ian McIntosh makes the most of the vulnerable and tragic figure. Jessica Daley also does well as Lynette whose empty-headed desire just to marry a pilot leads to Sid’s death.
The stage is rather stolen by Ray Shell as the loudmouthed, wise-cracking drill-sergeant Emil Foley. When he is on stage you cannot miss him and his lines are the best, and funniest, in the show.
The staging is well done with moving walls and stairways which seems to be the norm at the moment with stage musicals. Projections are also popular and these are well done in this production.
I have seen worse musicals of this genre, but a common factor seems to be the lack of ability to engage fully with an audience – though I might have been in the tiny minority at this show as I was left sitting in my seat while virtually everyone else was cheering on their feet. I am afraid I wasn’t lifted up. I don’t stand unless it is truly worth it.
Paula Pokrifki – Emma Williams
Zack Mayo – Jonny Fines
Emil Foley – Ray Shell
Sid Worley – Ian McIntosh
Lynette Pomeroy – Jessica Daley
Casey Seegar – Keisha Atwell
Louis Perryman – Andy Barke
June Perryman – Maisey Bawden
Byron Mayo – Darren Bennett
with David Burrows, James Darch, Vanessa Fisher, Aimee Hodnett, George Ioannides, Nathanael Landskroner, Joe Maxwell, Kieran McGinn, Corinna Powlesland, Rachel Stanley, Rhys Whitfield, Michael James Stewart
Director – Nikolai Foster
Musical Director – Michael Riley
Choreographer – Kate Prince
Set & Costume Design – Michael Taylor
Lighting Design – Ben Cracknell
Sound Design – Tom Marshall
Video Design – Douglas O’Connell