Emma Williams – Paula Pokrifki
Jonny Fines – Zack Mayo
Ray Shell – Emil Foley
Ian McIntosh – Sid Worley
Jessica Daley – Lynette Pomeroy
Keisha Atwell – Casey Seegar
Darren Bennett – Byron Mayo
Venue: Theatre Royal, Newcastle
Date: Friday 22nd June 2018
Firstly I need to just explain my full love for the film An Officer and a Gentleman and I have easily lost count of how many times I have watched it over the years. Therefore as soon as the musical was announced I bought the tickets the day they went on sale for Newcastle, before any casting had even been done! It then got even better that I had seen three of the main actors in other shows and I just love that, it made me even more excited about seeing this show.
In what is a very dark story and has plenty of heartbreaking moments it must have been a very difficult task to find the songs to have within the show. The choices are exceptional and work so well with the story, an added bonus for me is two Bon Jovi songs, well one Bon Jovi with Livin’ on a Prayer and then Jon Bon Jovi for Blaze of Glory. Everything else fit in so well with the story and obviously everyone was waiting for ‘Up Where We Belong’ which is so well-known thanks to the film and the final moment.
Zack Mayo has had an awful life with his mother dying when he was young and no one wanting him so he was sent to the Philippines to live with his father. He was dragged up with his whore chasing father who was in the Navy. Zack wanted better for his own life and that is how he signs up for the officer programme after finishing college. I thought the addition of Byron throughout was a very good narrative for the show and worked very well as then we didn’t need to have the background at the start like the film. Zack is placed in the squad with Foley as the sergeant and that is going to be a tough task. Struggling to think of others and just focusing on himself it will change for Zack when he meets Paula, a local girl who works in the nearby factory.
Paula is different to her friend Lynette though who is more than willing to trap one of the pilot wannabe officers and that is not good for poor Sid. I felt the story flowed very well on stage as it was something I was a little bit unsure of how it was going to work. Additions of more substance to the story with Byron and then Paula’s mother as well made it even better in all honesty. It is a dark story with the background Zack is dealing with and what happens with Sid, I am pretty much assuming everyone has seen the film. If not though that is going to come as an even bigger shock. It was even more heartbreaking seeing the moments on stage.
I certainly went on a very emotional journey from start to finish of the show, I think the addition of the music with incredible vocal performances from all cast members really did add to the experience. Especially when Emma Williams shows off her amazing voice when signing ‘Alone’ it was truly outstanding. I was lucky enough to see her a few years ago in Annie Get Your Gun and she is a fantastic leading lady. Given a different type of music to work with and a very good character she is brilliant. Working very well with Jonny Fines and having great chemistry together on stage. I throughly enjoyed the passion and emotion we get to see from him during ‘Blaze of Glory’ putting together all of Zack’s frustration. Again I had seen Jonny in another show the last UK Tour of Annie.
Sticking with performances I was super excited to see Ian McIntosh in another show having seen him three times in Beautiful when it was in the West End. He is amazing as Sid and gets to show off his vocals and acting ability with Family Man which is so heartbreaking and will really have you close to tears. Ray Shell was outstanding as Foley and certainly took on all the mannerisms from Louis Gossett Jr in the film and that made the audience long for him to be back on stage, his presence was perfect for that role.
I honestly loved everything about the way they had put this show together, the incredible cast with the amazing performances, the music choices and most importantly the moments we all know and love from the film. Seegar and Mayo eventually working together when he helps her over the wall, the friendships building, when the surviving candidates become officers (the part with Zack and Foley gets me every time) and then most importantly the factory scene and lift at the end with ‘Up Where We Belong’ yes I was crying by that point!
I had very high expectations for this show due to my love for the film and it fully exceeded them and it was a great night at the theatre. Love really does lift us all up where we belong!
An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical is touring the UK until September 2018, check out the remaining dates here.