An Officer and a Gentleman – Review – Sheffield Lyceum
By Helen Johnston, June 2018
We’ve most of us dreamt about it, haven’t we ladies? Having a handsome man sweep us off our feet and carry us off into the sunset.
For those of us of a certain age, the ultimate sweeping off feet moment came back in 1983 when Richard Gere strode into a Florida factory in his naval uniform to declare his love for Debra Winger.
So it was little wonder that when that scene finally arrived in the closing stages of this musical version of An Officer and a Gentleman, the theatre erupted with clapping and whooping women.
And then everyone was on their feet, whistling and applauding a terrific cast and celebrating the fact that love had lifted us ‘Up Where We Belong’.
“Range of emotions”
For this is an age-old story of the rocky path to love, now brought to the stage with a brilliant ‘80s soundtrack.
We had everything from ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, ‘St Elmo’s Fire’ and’ I Want To Know What Love is’, to ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’, ‘Heart of Glass’, and ‘Kids in America’.
Emma Williams as factory girl Paula Pokrifki produced a powerful and heartfelt solo of ‘Alone’, which earned well-deserved applause. Her duet with Rachel Stanley (playing her stage mum Esther) of ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud’ was equally compelling.
The story centres around Paula and naval officer recruit Zack Mayo (Jonny Fines) whose bad attitude earns the wrath of Sgt Emil Foley (Ray Shell). Fines plays it well, covering a range of emotions as he struggles to toe the line while also falling in love and dealing with a dysfunctional father. He is also given the chance to show off an impressive six-pack.
“Terrific feel-good show”
Shell is perfect as the cantankerous Foley, who does his best to break any recruit he thinks is not suitable officer material.
Set in Pensacola, Florida, Paula and her friend Lynette (Jessica Daley) dream of escaping their humdrum existence and for Lynette, that means bagging an officer from the nearby naval college.
Mayo and his pal Sid Worley (played with great emotion by Ian McIntosh) meet the two girls and Lynette begins to put her plan into action with Worley. But tragedy strikes and only one girl gets to be carried away from the monotony of the conveyor belt. Added to the mix are an embittered mother and auntie, who tried the same escape route years earlier without success.
This is a terrific feel-good show which will have you looking through your ‘80s record collection again.