Left – Ben Mingay and Amanda Harrison. Cover – Bert LaBonte and Ben Mingay. Photos – Brian Geach.
It seems that the current trend is to turn a movie into a stage musical. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Hairspray, Legally Blonde and even Spiderman have been successfully transformed into stage productions. Now it is time to see whether An Officer and a Gentleman can make the same successful transition. Written by Douglas Day Stewart, the musical version had its world premiere on the 18th of May at Sydney's Lyric Theatre in the newly renovated Star Casino.
I find it difficult to critique this musical as, throughout the show, I was constantly comparing it to the romantic 1982 film starring a very young and handsome Richard Gere. However, I'm aware that the principles of a musical number, in many instances, are to reflect the feelings and inner thoughts of the characters on stage. In other words, the things that remain unsaid or difficult to put into words seem more appropriately sung to the attentive audience and this was the case with An Officer and a Gentleman. Generally speaking, everything that was implied in the filmic version was brought to life through the musical numbers in the stage production. Whether this is necessary or not may be beside the point, as audiences who see the show (mostly) have seen and thoroughly enjoyed the film. So what are they looking for? Something different? A 're-imagining', or an exact replica with a bit of music thrown in?
At many points the dialogue in the stage musical replicates the script of the film word-for-word and I believe that was a good choice, as some of the lines are incredibly iconic and memorable. I was waiting on the edge of my seat to hear some of the characters utter their words, especially the hilarious lines from Sgt. Emil Foley (played here by Bert LaBonté) such as "Are you a steer or are you a queer?" This was a role which would inevitably be compared with the film version, and be very hard to live up to. Bert LaBonté was exactly what was wanted; he really commanded the stage and had a beautiful and incredibly strong voice.
The stars of the show, Zack Mayo(naise), played by Ben Mingay and Paula Pokrifki, played by Amanda Harrison, were well-cast, and performed well. Sid Worley (Alex Rathgeber) and Lynette Pomeroy (Kate Kendall) provided the dramatic sub-plot and really shone in their solos, 'Dirty Little War' and 'Be My Wife'.
You won't recognise the music, although fresh and catchy, and you'll have to wait until the final scene to hear Up Where We Belong (just as you had to in the film when it was heard over the final credits). The stage show includes sex scenes and coarse language, so make sure to keep this in mind when you invite friends and family to see this with you!
To add to the magic of your night out you can even pre-order some 'navy (cup) cakes' to nibble on during the intermission, which I think is a very cute touch. It really shows how iconic this story has become. The themes of love, honesty and hard-work are timeless – this musical will be loved by anyone who likes a good old-fashioned (musical) romance.
AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN
A new musical | based on the Paramount Pictures-Lorimar movie
music and lyrics by Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner | book by Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen
Director Simon Phillips
Venue: Sydney Lyric, The Star
Dates: From 10 May
Times: Wed–Sat 8pm, Matinees Tues–Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm & Sun 3pm
Tickets: $70.90 – $135.90
Bookings: 1300 795 267 or ticketmaster.com.au | Groups 12+ (02) 8240 2290
An Officer and a Gentleman
- Penny Spirou