It’s one of the most iconic romances ever to be told on the big screen – and now An Officer And A Gentleman flies into the Edinburgh Playhouse as part of its first ever UK tour.
Based on true events and the Oscar-winning film of the same name, An Officer And A Gentleman tells the story of the motorbike riding, troubled army recruit Zach Mayo (Jonny Fines) and fellow cadet Sid Worley (Ian McIntosh) as they enrol on an intense 12-week training programme at the US Navy’s Aviation Academy led by tough drill sergeant Emil Foley (played by the excellent Ray Shell).
The cadets are warned that the local factory girls have been known to ensnare cadets with pregnancies but that doesn’t stop them partying with local girls Paula Pokrifki (Emma Williams) and Lynette Pomeroy (Jessica Daley) who immediately draw their attention when on leave.
Cue pregnancy scares, motel bust-ups and push-ups galore as the young recruits attempt to finish their pilot training whilst learning the importance of love and friendship.
It’s more than a boy-meets-girl romance, though, and the production touches on much harder issues such as suicide, racism, class inequality, gender politics and domestic abuse throughout.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t go into too much depth surrounding the grittier issues, which feels like a missed opportunity, yet understandable given the time restraints.
An Officer And A Gentleman still provides everything you would want in a musical based on an 80s themed musical – classic hits from a golden era of pop.
Musicals often have an easier ride when the audience know the songs and like its other successful movie-turned-musical predecessors, Dirty Dancing and The Bodyguard, An Officer And A Gentleman brings 80s nostalgia from the film to the stage with classic hits like The Final Countdown, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Heart Of Glass, Material Girl and Love Lifts Us Up (Where We Belong).
A number of songs do feel rushed at times, which results in few truly standout performances. That being said, co-stars Fines and Williams give strong, emotive performances in much deserved lead roles.
If you take it for what it is, An Officer And A Gentleman offers a great night at the theatre – it’s wonderfully cheesy, plenty of fun and will definitely sweep you off your feet.
An Officer and a Gentleman is on at the Edinburgh Playhouse until July 7.
Words: Aimee Stanton
Photo by Manuel Harlan