Review: An Officer and a Gentleman

Emma Williams as Paula Pokrifki and Jonny Fines as Zack Mayo in An Officer and a Gentleman. Photo by Manuel Harlan.
Emma Williams as Paula Pokrifki and Jonny Fines as Zack Mayo in An Officer and a Gentleman. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

There must have been few, if any, Lyceum Theatregoers at Monday’s opening performance of An Officer and a Gentleman the musical who were unfamiliar with the iconic film, first screened in 1982.

But the largely female audience, of a certain age it must be said, clearly took to the stage version interlaced with rousing Eighties hits such as St Elmo’s Fire and The Final Countdown. So much so that they gave the delighted cast a standing ovation.

The musical element could have been profoundly odd, but worked nostalgically within a production that contains much pent emotion. Tension is a palpable undercurrent, despite this being a romantic tale with a climactic happy ending.

Emma Williams as Paula Pokrifki, Jonny Fines as Zack Mayo, and Keisha Atwell as Casey Seegar stood out, well supported by Jessica Daley and Ian McIntosh as Lynette and Sid.

Ray Shell was superb as Emil Foley, shaping up the would-be aviators.

It is a fast-paced, punchy production with pulsating energy and swift, deft set changes that never detract from the story onstage.

There are splashes of humour, and memorable moments. The story is dated in many ways but I got the feeling that much of the audience was there for the fairytale. There were big smiles and rapt faces as Zack finally whisked Paula away to the strains of Up Where We Belong.

Douglas Day Stewart penned the original story, based on his own life experiences. Director of the musical is Nikolai Foster, with choreographer Kate Prince.

Sally Burton