On a Monday night, I find myself at the Bristol Hippodrome, simply coz I got no place else to go. This production had a lot to live up to. With Richard Gere and the Oscar winning film having left such a strong imprint my memories of the 80’s (and many of my ex-girlfriends), this production was going to have to work hard to meet expectations. Never has the ironing of white trousers ever meant so much to so many!
Luckily the use of many of the decade’s greatest songs and the film’s original score (Up Where We Belong, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Livin’ On A Prayer, Material Girl, Don’t Cry Out Loud, I Was Made for Lovin’ You, and The Final Countdown) have you cranking up the volume on your walkman while shredding your air guitar.
The story of Zack Mayo training to become a US Navy Pilot and his three months in Boot camp is emotional assault course of trials, tribulations and conflict. While at heart a love story, An Officer and a Gentleman also explores issues around class and the lengths that people go to in order to escape their circumstances or fulfil their dreams.
The film had several strong performances that were always going to be hard to compete with (Richard Gere as Zack and Louis Gossett Jr as Sgt Foley always stand out for me). However, this show has a strong cast, who delivered some fantastic individual performances, that brought the characters to life and the actors played well of each other. Musically you are treated to some fantastic recreations of the songs, which are performed wonderfully by the cast. With a great set and good costumes, you certainly felt you were in the Navy....or the factory.
There is a lot of story to pack into a couple of hours and at times the show felt a bit rushed, pushing the story along before you have had time to absorb what is happening. But with all the energy, pace and 80’s power ballads, the production appeared oddly static on occasion with the characters seemingly not allowed to move around the stage in a more natural manner. For me, the production failed to come together at times and lacked a bit of punch overall. However, some good acting and great singing still built to an uplifting ending with the whole crowd cheering as Up Where You Belong played.
A good night back in the 80's but ultimately, it did not sweep me off my feet. Mayonnaise!