Theatre Review: An Officer And a Gentleman - King's Theatre, Glasgow ✭✭✭½

Review by Sharman Prince

Once most new musicals were based on pre-existing plays and/or novels but nowadays the trend leans towards adapting motion picture titles and one of the newest is An Officer And A Gentleman based on the 1982 film starring Richard Gere. This is actually the third musical version following a Japanese adaptation in 2010 and an Australian production in 2012 which featured an original score whereas this new tour utilises pre-existing songs.

Zack Mayo is one of a new group of US Navy trainees who face several obstacles before achieving their dream of graduating - none more formidable than drill sergeant Emil Foley. On top of all that romance materialises for Zack and his friend Sid in the form of local factory workers Paula Pokrifki and Lynette Pomeroy who only add to their turbulent experiences.

As a piece of stage work this adaptation's book by Douglas Day Stewart (writer of the original film) and Sharleen Cooper Cohen requires tightening and it is to director Nikolai Foster's credit that he elects to bring out the humour of the script whilst creating some strong moments onstage - including the simple yet rousing finale. 

Michael Taylor's set design has some strong elements but does become bland at times and the lighting of Ben Cracknell is likewise a bit hit and miss with chaotic choices existing alongside more refined options. Sadly the sound design also requires tinkering with as it was nigh impossible at times to hear the vocals above the incredibly loud - though proficient - band. The orchestrations by George Dyer are first-rate and the choice of songs is pretty well on the mark though some are not as organic to the plot as others. Regardless the musical numbers are incredibly enjoyable and bring intense energy to the production.

Once again Foster has assembled a fine ensemble led by Jonny Fines as "Zack Mayo" and Emma Williams as "Paula Pokrifki" both of whom possess tremendous vocals and stage presence. They also share a palpable chemistry that is essential to the story. Ian McIntosh ("Sid Worley") and Jessica Daley ("Lynette Pomeroy") are equally as enjoyable especially as their story-line comes to a head. Ray Shell is a huge presence within the show and is on fine form as the domineering "Emil Foley" and he is clearly enjoying himself onstage whilst the company as a whole ably rise above the limitations of the libretto.

Though somewhat lacking as a piece of stage drama An Officer And A Gentleman is still enjoyable fun - if only for the dynamic performances of the various rock and pop songs by the superb cast.

An Officer and A Gentleman is at the King's Theatre Glasgow until Saturday 15 September. For tickets and information visit the King's Theatre.