×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

An Officer and a Gentleman

Not the most obvious retro pic for the tuner treatment, this reworking of the 1982 Taylor Hackford hit "An Officer and a Gentleman" is a faithful but fluffy affair that ultimately does little to lift anyone up where they belong.

With:
Zack Mayo - Ben Mingay
Paula Pokrifki - Amanda Harrison
Sid Worley - Alex Rathgeber
Lynette Pomeroy - Kate Kendall
Byron Mayo - Bartholomew John
Sgt Emil Foley - Bert Labonte
Esther Pokrifki -Tara Morice
Ramon Guiterrez - Josh Piterman
Zahra Newman -Taniya Seeger
Charlie Redding - Josef Brown
Amy Cantrowitz - Sheridan Harbridge

Not the most obvious retro pic for the tuner treatment, this reworking of the 1982 Taylor Hackford hit “An Officer and a Gentleman” is a faithful but fluffy affair that ultimately does little to lift anyone up where they belong. Songs in the first act never take flight, and the original story is so well-known, and so slavishly followed here, that the musical feels reductive rather than reinvigorating.

Save for some clumsy updates — extra women in the cadet group and love interest Paula Porkrifki studying to be a nurse instead of just wanting to see the world — and necessary truncation, like removing key family plots for Paula, that first act seems mostly to smother a central romance that is barely alight.

Play, like the pic, begins with a Manila flashback that has been neatly converted into a dream sequence by director Simon Phillips. Abandoned boy Zack Mayo seeks out his father, Byron, a navy hustler, and soon learns to trust no one. When he awakes, the adult Zack (played by Ben Mingay, a beefier, cleaner-cut Richard Gere for the “Twilight” generation) is headed for officer training camp where, in a tried-and-tested ’80s movie tradition, he will meet his nemesis in tough-as-nails Sgt. Emile Foley (Bert Labonte, who is strong, funny, but still doesn’t compare to film’s Louis Gossett Jr.). He bunks with navy royalty Sid Worley (Alex Rathgeber) and rubs most of the rest of the group up the wrong way.

Meanwhile local girl Paula is working in the local box factory with her mother (a wasted Tara Morice) and out to meet officers with friend Lynette, who quickly sets her sights on Sid.

Act I — into which songs appear to be inserted merely because there has been too much talking — intersperses the training with the two romances, but it feels as if naval camaraderie wins out even if Sid and Lynette manage a believable (though whip-fast) connection. This is mainly down to the strength of the two actors: Rathgeber gives a wonderfully nuanced turn as the conflicted young officer torn between his family’s desires and his own and Kendall is a believable mix of needy and vicious in her search for an aviator husband.

Mingay (who previously appeared in a local staging of “Jersey Boys”) is a solid lead with the swagger and emotion to keep an aud interested, but Harrison does little with the pared-down part that Debra Winger made so memorable in the pic.

Things improve considerably in Act II, which starts with a bang, a hip-shaking salsa number “Halfway” that highlights the workaday previous act. Things remain pert throughout the second half: Song “Wings of My Own,” while a little cliched, provides Harrison’s finest hour and Kendall’s “Dirty Little War,” about trapping her man, proves wickedly entertaining.

By keeping everyone moving and the pace clipped during the second act of tragedy and triumph, Phillips makes sure it all moves as seamlessly as Dale Ferguson’s sinuous, skeletal set, a deceptively simple scaffold that easily becomes the bones of bars, motels and the navy base.

However, the attempt to set the pic in an unidentified time fails mainly because Ferguson’s costumes strongly channel the ’70s, as does the Farrah Fawcett wig on Kendall.

So when wings and hearts have been won, we come to the big moment when Zack enters the box factory in full naval whites to carry Paula off. But the signature tune, “Up Where We Belong,” feels shoehorned in, particularly when the more oblique lyrics are sung to Paula by Zack, rather that just being allowed to play in the background. It would be to harsh to suggest this tuner should be grounded, but there is some more training to do before it “gets jets.”

An Officer and a Gentleman

Lyric Theater, Star City, Sydney; 2,014 seats; A$70.90 $135.90

Production: A Sharleen Cooper-Cohen and John Frost production, in association with Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros Theater Ventures, of a musical in two acts. Directed by Simon Phillips. Book by Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen. Composition/lyrics Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner; choreography, Andrew Hallsworth.

Creative: Set and costumer design, Dale Ferguson; sound design, Michael Walters; lighting design, Matt Scott; arrangement, Stephan Oberhoff, Ken Hirsch, Robin Lerner; musical direction, Dave Skelton; orchestration, Graham Jesse. Reviewed, opened May 18, 2012. Running time: 2 HOURS, 16 MIN.

Cast: Zack Mayo - Ben Mingay
Paula Pokrifki - Amanda Harrison
Sid Worley - Alex Rathgeber
Lynette Pomeroy - Kate Kendall
Byron Mayo - Bartholomew John
Sgt Emil Foley - Bert Labonte
Esther Pokrifki -Tara Morice
Ramon Guiterrez - Josh Piterman
Zahra Newman -Taniya Seeger
Charlie Redding - Josef Brown
Amy Cantrowitz - Sheridan Harbridge

More Legit

  • Bryan Cranston First Time in Variety

    Bryan Cranston on His Early Roles, Dealing With Rejection and His 'Erasable Mind'

    Following his 2014 Tony Award for best actor as President Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” Bryan Cranston is looking to add to his trophy collection this year with his performance as Howard Beale in “Network.” The deranged anchorman — who’s famously “mad as hell and not going to take this [...]

  • Ink Play West End London

    Wary Theater Rivalry Between London and New York Gives Way to a Boom in Crossovers

    Give or take a little tectonic shift, the distance between London and New York still stands at 3,465 miles. Arguably, though, the two theater capitals have never been closer. It’s not just the nine productions playing in duplicate in both locations — believed to be the most ever — with three more expected in the [...]

  • Alex Brightman Beetlejuice Broadway

    How Alex Brightman Brought a Pansexual Beetlejuice to Life on Broadway

    Alex Brightman gives the deadliest performance on Broadway — in a good way — in “Beetlejuice.” The big-budget musical adaptation of the 1988 film directed by Tim Burton has scored eight Tony nominations, including best actor. To play the frisky role, Brightman (“School of Rock”) dons Beetlejuice’s striped suit and an assortment of colorful wigs [...]

  • Santino Fontana Tootsie Broadway Illustration

    'Tootsie' Star Santino Fontana on the Challenges of His Tony-Nominated Dual Role

    Santino Fontana is doing double duty on Broadway this year. The “Tootsie” star scored his second Tony Award nomination this month for his hilarious portrayal of struggling actor Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels, the female persona that Dorsey assumes to win a role in a play. The musical, based on the 1982 comedy starring Dustin [...]

  • Dear Evan Hansen

    Broadway Cast Albums Find Fresh Footing With Hip New Sounds, Viral Outreach

    Mixtapes. YouTube videos. Dedicated playlists. Ancillary products. Viral marketing. Epic chart stays. These are things you expect to hear from a record label discussing Cardi B or Beyoncé. Instead, this is the new world of a very old staple, the Broadway original cast recording. Robust stats tell the tale: Atlantic’s “Hamilton” album beat the record [...]

  • Ali Stroker Oklahoma

    Ali Stroker on 'Oklahoma!': 'This Show Doesn’t Follow the Rules and That Is So Who I Am'

    Ali Stroker is no stranger to rewriting history. With her 2015 Broadway debut in “Spring Awakening,” she became the first actor in a wheelchair to perform on the Great White Way. Three years later, she’s back onstage in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” as Ado Annie, the flirtatious local who splits her affections between a resident [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content