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Leicester Curve’s musical version of An Officer And A Gentleman is currently launching its UK tour at Birmingham theatre The Alexandra.

One of the biggest box-office hits of 1982, the film boasted a career-defining performance from a very young Richard Gere and an Oscar-nominated turn from leading lady Debra Winger.

For those not in the know, the story follows two men from different socio-economic backgrounds who form an unlikely friendship. Sid Worley (here played by Paul French) is a shy, slightly awkward rich kid. Lead character Zack Mayo (Luke Baker) is a strong-willed yet troubled young man who was raised by a neglectful and alcoholic father after his mother committed suicide. Both have enlisted in the US Navy Aviation Officer Cadets School, where they meet the ruthlessly strict and hugely intimidating Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Jamal Crawford). Foley warns the candidates that the training is almost insurmountable, and that over half of them will fail. Zack and Foley do not hit it off! Foley does everything in his power to force Zack to leave the programme. But Zack wont quit, no matter what the drill sergeant throws at him.

Whilst out socialising with their fellow cadets, Zack and Sid fall for local girls Paula Pokrifiki (Georgia Lennon) and Lynette Pomeroy (Sinead Long). Zack and Paula’s love story begins to come alive on stage and is enhanced by their great vocal harmonies during a memorable performance of I Want To Know What Love Is. The song is one of many 1980s hits liberally sprinkled throughout the show. As well as the film’s famous romantic anthem, (Love Lifts Us) Up Where We Belong, other featured classics from the decade include Material Girl, St Elmo’s Fire, Kids In America and When The Going Gets Tough...

The first half of last night’s show was a little bit patchy energy-wise. Although enjoyable to watch, the vitality and passion I was expecting was sometimes lacking - and possibly due to the arrangement of the music, some of the attempted harmonies didn't quite hit the mark.

The cast really got into their stride after the interval, however, kickstarting proceedings with a fantastic rendition of Livin’ On A Prayer. The increased pace was maintained throughout the second half, which included one of my favourite numbers, The Final Countdown, performed by Foley and the candidates.

As well as the central love story between Zack and Paula - which beautifully blends drama and romance - the show also explores the hot topics of sexism, racial prejudice and mental health. The demanding and rigorous training process required to become an officer in the US Navy also comes under the spotlight. The actors playing the trainees - talented singers & dancers one and all - greatly impress with their levels of physical fitness.

An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical is an old-fashioned and timeless love story that boasts a brilliant soundtrack and talented cast, with the actors who play the central characters producing some truly outstanding performances. Strong voices, great dancing, clever choreography and a fabulous live band further enhance the show. If you love the film and love the music of the 1980s, this is a night out at the theatre well worth catching. 

4 Stars

An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical was reviewed by Sue Hull on Monday 26 February at Birmingham’s The Alexandra, where it shows until this Saturday (2 March). The show returns to the Midlands in the autumn, running at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from Monday 23 to Saturday 28 September.