REVIEW: An Officer and a Gentleman at The Alexandra

An Officer And A Gentleman is a new musical, based on the 1982 American romantic drama film starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett Jr.

It tells the story of Zack, a United States Navy Aviation Officer Candidate who is beginning his training and, through the bravado, meets his first true girlfriend - a local girl called Paula. He faces a number of challenges along the way, almost quitting and dropping out of the running, but the story is a real tale of positivity triumphing over failure.

The film version of the show is held in high esteem by many - it might not hold the cult status of Dirty Dancing or The Bodyguard but it comes a very close second and as we entered the auditorium there was an air of trepidation about how this could translate to the stage. But from the first musical number the fears were allayed and the audience fell in love with the story all over again.

The staging and lighting is the first element of the jigsaw that makes this show stand out. Taking a simple outline and adding in subtle features to signify a scene change, An Officer And A Gentleman has a dynamic and overbearing presence on stage. 

I also defy you to find a better jukebox soundtrack. Featuring the hits of Madonna, Bon Jovi and John Parr, this production is an 80s megamix to die for and an appointment with nostalgia. Whilst it's true that the arrangements are, in some cases, distinctly different this is every 40-year-old's guilty pleasure playlist.

Luke Baker (Billy Elliot, Everybody's Talking About Jamie) takes on the titular role and steps into Gere's shoes with ease. His performance was convincing, slick and emotional, bringing a raw take on the part that didn't mimic the original. His vocal efforts were exceptional and his demeanour such that everyone in the auditorium felt a compassion for his plight that's so difficult to generate. 

Last in town for The Osmond's musical, Georgia Lennon's interpretation of Paula was the perfect compliment to Baker's take on Zack. With a clear chemistry that would lead you to easily assume they'd played the role for years rather than months, it becomes so much easier to appreciate nuances of characters and the skill of the actors portraying when you don't have to try and believe in the story to begin with. That was certainly the case here.

Jamal Crawford (Fame, Guys & Dolls) takes on the inimitable Emil Foley and - to be frank - absolutely smashes it. Crawford's list of credits speaks for itself and he's charismatic, strong but with a certain sense of vulnerability at the end of the show and is a pleasure to watch.

An Officer And A Gentleman is a classic love story, punctuated by a brilliant soundtrack and an energetic and well rehearsed cast. There were a couple of issues with sound in the first act, but these seemed to have been remedied after the interval - what they didn't do, however, was put a downer on a show that's made to be enjoyed; and that's certainly the case here.

An Officer And A Gentleman runs at The Alexandra until 2nd March 2024. For more information, or to get tickets, head to  

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