Review: An Officer and a Gentleman – The Musical – Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

Review By Frances Winston

An Officer and a Gentleman – The Musical

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2.

No, you’re not seeing things. They have actually adapted the 80s Debra Winger and Richard Gere classic into a musical. In fact, this is the second attempt to launch such a vehicle. An earlier version featured original songs and bombed, so this time around, they have resorted to 80s classics to pepper the story.

I’m going to assume everyone has seen the film, so already knows the plot. In a nutshell, a rebellious naval officer-in-training called Zack falls for factory worker, Paula, but their histories and situations make for a rather complicated relationship.

The film was one of the biggest hits of 1982, but is somewhat of its time, with many of the gender stereotyping not translating well into the current #MeToo climate. And since this stays true to the plot of the film, all the uncomfortable gender politics issues are still in place.

In order to distract from this perhaps they have thrown money at this show. The rights to the songs alone must have set them back a pretty penny, with well-known hits such as Material Girl, You’re The Voice, St Elmo’s Fire, This is a Man’s World, Don’t Cry Out Loud and, of course, the movie’s theme song, Up Where We Belong, all getting the musical theatre treatment. On the whole, the arrangements of these are brilliant (A Man’s World is particularly rousing) however, some of them don’t really work in the context of the story.

They have also invested in a phenomenal stage, which looks more like something you would find in a long-standing show in the West End, rather than a brand new offering. It is really fantastic and well-conceived. It is offset by video screens, where pre-recorded segments fill in some of the gaps in the story that may have been tricky to stage, and also acts as a backdrop to certain scenes.

The cast are great and give electric performances. Each of them has a phenomenal voice that they get to showcase at one time or another. This isn’t enough to detract from the fact that certain moments of this story – bearing in mind that it’s 36 years old and of its time as I said – are cheesier than Babybel though. There’s less cheese on a cheese-board. There is also an unfortunate scene where a character offers to pay for an abortion. This is a serious scene, and taken straight from the movie. However, when presented to an Irish audience a mere three days after the referendum results, it was met with howls of laughter, particularly when she responded that she couldn’t have an abortion because she’s Catholic. However, I’ve a feeling audiences elsewhere will treat it more reverently.

I went into this conflicted, as it seems a pointless adaptation, but I did come out with a smile on my face, and that is mainly down to the musical numbers, the cast’s energy, and the chemistry of the leads.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle, the story doesn’t really hold up all these years later. The show itself is well-conceived and put together, and it is a lot of fun, but I’m not sure it will enjoy the longevity of some similar shows. So catch it while you can as it is worth one look at least.

Oh, and please note, that it really is unsuitable for a younger audience, due to some of the adult themes and language featured throughout.

An Officer and a Gentleman – The Musical

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2.

Until June 2nd 7.30pm nightly. Matinee 2.30pm May 30th and June 2nd

Tickets From €21

Group offers Mon-Thurs only €5 off for Groups 6+,

Schools, Students, Children 3-13, OAP, Access & Carers

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