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Sarah Crown
Theatre Correspondent
8:53 AM 18th June 2024
arts

An Officer and A Gentleman

 
Georgia Lennon as Paula Pokrifki and Luke Baker as Zack Mayo 
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner
Georgia Lennon as Paula Pokrifki and Luke Baker as Zack Mayo Photo Credit: Marc Brenner
Based on the 1980’s film of the same name which starred Richard Gere and Debra Winger, the story of An Officer and A Gentleman follows the transformation and sheer determination of Zack Mayo, from a somewhat rough and tough but streetwise youth, in his quest to make something positive of his life and become an American naval jet pilot. On the way, this becomes a timeless tale of love, courage and ultimately redemption.

Set in America post the Vietnam war, the issues that the populace faced still have parallels with our society of today in that we look to create a fairer society paying due regard to the women’s rights, anti-racism and any opportunities to try and improve our lives. Each of the main characters are seeking an escape of some sort – be it from working in a factory, an abusive childhood, or oppressive family expectations. All show determination in the face of adversity.

The Cast Of An Officer and A Gentleman
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner
The Cast Of An Officer and A Gentleman Photo Credit: Marc Brenner
The lead role of Zack Mayo was played by Luke Baker who was brilliant. Not only was he able to sing and dance but also to give his character great depth and in so doing generated much audience empathy. This was especially evident by the manner in which he portrayed the aftermath of the suicide of his great friend, Sid Worley. Georgia Lennon, as Paula Pokrifki was equally as talented and together, they were a believable young couple falling in love. Melanie Masson playing Esther Pokrifki, Paula’s Mum, also possessed powerful vocals and a commanding stage presence. Other characters of note would include Jamal Crawford’s strict Sergeant Foley, Sinead Long as Lynette Pomeroy and Paul French as the misunderstood and ultimately tragic Sid Worley.

Paul French (Sid Worley)
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner
Paul French (Sid Worley) Photo Credit: Marc Brenner
Stand out moments for me would include the opening of Act 2 Living on a Prayer and the fight scene towards the end of Act 2 between Sergeant Foley and Zack. The former was full of life, colour and vitality and the latter with the assistance of clever lighting was one of the most realistic fight scenes I have ever seen staged.

The set design and costumes by Michael Taylor were spot on and all scene changes were cleverly managed by the cast. I especially appreciated the choreography input by Joanna Goodwin which really showcased the cast’s dancing and general movement abilities to best effect.

The only sour note was in regard to the balance between the musicians and the vocalists as although many of the songs were familiar, it was impossible to decipher the lyrics which was great shame as both the band of musicians, directed by Christopher Duffy and the cast as a whole were both talented and capable.

This is a lovely musical and the packed auditorium of a mainly female audience were delighted to watch Zack’s transformation from a rough and ready youth to becoming both an officer and a gentleman.

Sheffield Lyceum until 22nd June