An Officer and a Gentleman

Starting its brand-new UK & Ireland Tour at The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, An Officer and a Gentleman is full of romance, heartbreak and a whole host of absolute bangers! 

Set in the 1980’s, this show tells the story of Zak Mayo (Luke Baker), a lost soul turning to the Navy for the chance of a better life.  He meets and falls in love with local girl Paula Pokrifki (Georgia Lennon) and if you’ve seen the 1982 film starring Richard Gere, you’ll know how it ends.

Firstly, the staging by Michael Taylor is industrial in its look, with metal caging surrounding the stage adorned with neon lights depicting an aeroplane, a palm tree and the entrance to local pub TJ’s.  With lighting by Ben Cracknell, it’s no surprise to me that these elements made the stage pop and added into the mix with various spotlights and flashing strip lighting, I was once again won over by Cracknell’s mastery of his craft.

Leading the cast is Luke Baker (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Billy Elliott) as Zak Mayo.  His range of emotion throughout the show was first class and his vocal ability shines through with numbers such as ‘Blaze of Glory’ by Bon Jovi and ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ by Foreigner, a duet performed beautifully with Georgia Lennon (The Osmonds Musical).  The 1980’s mega mix of hits are churned out at a fast rate in the show with offerings from the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, John Parr and of course the big number synonymous with the film ‘Up Where We Belong’ by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warne. I did feel though that many songs were shoehorned in unnecessarily and didn’t really add to the narrative.

Playing Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley is Jamal Crawford (Fame, Back To The Future).  He was the standout performer for me, bringing an authoritative air to the stage, berating the wannabe recruits in order to bring out the best in them.  His performance was confident, and it was a shame we didn’t hear more of his voice during the musical moments.   Also providing a confident vocal performance was Wendi Harriot (Sleeping Beauty, Soul Sisters The Musical) as Aunt Bunny who impressed with ‘Kids in America’ by Kim Wilde.  I must also mention to Paul French (Grease, Annie) as Sid Worley, another Navy recruit who falls in love with Lynette Pomeroy played by Sinead Long (9 to 5, Sylvia). A solid vocal quality and polished performance where he was able to balance light and dark moments so well.

As this is the first location on the tour, it would be mean of me to pick at the show too much, however there were a few issues, mainly surrounding the sound on the evening.  There were many moments of poor volume, and then increased volume, without there being a happy medium which spoiled many of the songs and spoken dialogue.  As a show overall, I’m sure that with a few more performances under their belt, this will become a real audience pleaser as there is some witty repartee and standout musical moments, however I felt that some of the choreography needed tightening up to become more in sync, but again nothing that can’t be remedied as the run continues.

This show has lots of potential and with the cracking 80’s soundtrack, it will be welcomed out onto the touring circuit with open arms by audiences up and down the country. 

This show was reviewed on the 26th February 2024 at The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham where it runs until the 2nd March 2024.  Tickets available here: An Officer and a Gentleman The Musical Tickets | The Alexandra, Birmingham in Birmingham | ATG Tickets

Full tour details can be found here: An Officer and a Gentleman The Musical

Review written by Emma Rowley

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Photo credit: Marc Brenner

Check out other reviews from Curtain Call Reviews and get in touch to have our reviewers head to your show.

You can also check out my interview with Luke Baker (Zak Mayo) here

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