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Olivia Foster-Browne shines!

Updated: May 8



Directed by Nikolai Foster

Review by David Bithell for A View To A Kiln

Photo credits – Marc Brenner

 

An Officer and a Gentleman is a captivating and emotionally charged production that delivers a powerful and moving experience for audiences. Based on the 1982 film of the same name, this musical adaptation follows the story of Zack Mayo, a young naval officer candidate at the prestigious Aviation Officer Candidate School, as he navigates the challenges of love, loss, and self-discovery.

 


Georgia Lennon as Paula Pokrifki

The cast is filled with talented actors who bring each character to life with authenticity and depth. In particular, the chemistry between the leads, Zack (Under study on the night, James Wilkinson-Jones) and Paula (Georgia Lennon), is palpable. The ensemble also shines, adding depth and richness to the story with their strong impressive dance numbers. The star of the show for me is Olivia Foster-Browne who plays Casey Seegar with her never say die attitude.

 

The set design is simple yet effective, transporting audiences to the world of the military with its barracks and training grounds. The lighting and sound design enhance the mood and atmosphere of each scene, creating a sense of tension and urgency as the characters face their inner demons and personal struggles.

 


Olivia Foster-Browne as Casey Seegar

What truly sets this production apart is its ability to balance heart-wrenching moments with moments of joy and hope. The music, directed by Christopher Duffy is a perfect blend of well-known ballads and upbeat numbers.

 

Hits:

  • Powerhouse Cast: The show boasts a talented cast. The lead actors deliver nuanced performances, particularly Jamal Kane Crawford's portrayal of the tough-but-fair Drill Instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Foley and Olivia Foster-Browne as Casey Seegar.

  • High-Energy 80s Soundtrack: The inclusion of iconic 80s hits is undeniably fun. Whether it's Bon Jovi's anthems or Cyndi Lauper's cheeky tunes, the music injects the show with a vibrant energy, especially during group numbers.

  • Technical Finesse: The set design is clever, transforming seamlessly from the grueling training grounds to the smoky bar. The choreography is also well-executed, adding a layer of intensity to the boot camp scenes.


Misses:

  • Vocal arrangement: Vocals were a bit weak in places.

  • Uneven Plot Integration: While the 80s soundtrack is enjoyable, some songs feel shoehorned in, rather than driving the narrative forward.

  • Emotional Resonance: The heart of the film, the transformation of Zack Mayo from rebellious slacker to dedicated officer, feels rushed in the musical format. This weakens the emotional impact of the climax.

 



"An Officer and a Gentleman" is a crowd-pleaser for fans of the movie and 80s music. The energetic performances and nostalgic soundtrack provide a fun night out. However, the uneven integration of the songs and the film's dated themes hold the musical back from reaching its full potential.

 

Recommendation:

 

If you're looking for a light-hearted trip down memory lane with some impressive singing and dancing, this musical might be for you. However, if you're seeking a deeper exploration of the film's themes, you might be left wanting.

 

At the Regent Theatre in Hanley until Sat 11th May 2024.

 

 

 

 

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