There is something rather sexy about a man in uniform and something even sexier about a military man out of his uniform…
Fill a stage with men singing and dancing in uniform or quite often without and you sort of get the gist of Officer and a Gentleman. Now put Ben Mingay in military garb and also have him in nothing but his underwear for a majority of the production and god damn it does make it a pleasure to watch!
Zack Mayo (Mingay) has grown up in the slums of Manila and learnt from the streets. We first see him emerging from bed with his father and two prostitutes with the determination that he doesn’t want the same fate as his father. Zack decides that he wants to enrol in the army with the idea to become the worshipped jet pilot to improve his life. Paula (Amanda Harrison) is working in a factory with her Mum (Tara Morice) and training in the evening to be a nurse, but wishes for a better life. Can you see where they are going with this typical Hollywood-style story?
Simon Phillips has directed one very cheesy musical. Adapted from the original Hollywood film, it is bound to be a little over the top and boy is it ever! Think of the rarely seen musical Chess and throw in any movie with an over the top happy ending and this is how best to describe Officer and a Gentleman. The story is a little dated as are the hairstyles… but it is a lot of fun.
There is something about good choreography that can make or break a musical and the musical numbers in Officer and a Gentleman were very entertaining. Andrew Hallsworth has helped lighten the overall story with some really fun dance numbers.
Amanda Harrison is always good, whether she is in Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You, Wicked or Officer and a Gentleman. She can belt out a song with some of the best of them and her performance as Paula is really cheesy and fun. Ben Mingay is damn hot and the more he is on stage without a shirt as Zack the more you realise he is not just a good musical performer but a very captivating and cheeky individual on stage.
A nice surprise was seeing Tara Morice (of Strictly Ballroom fame) playing Paula’s mother, she is really engaging on stage and does seem to be having a lot of fun that carries through to her performance. But do look out for the singing talents of Bert Labonte as Sargent Emil Foley as he steals the show.
The original film of Officer and a Gentleman was very sickly sweet and very fanciful story and this has been carried through to this stage production. If you liked the film then you are bound to love this Broadway style musical. The story is definitely helped along by the numerous shirtless and very buff individuals who grace the stage but then again the story is set in the training camp of the army. The only disappointment is that MinGAY doesn’t live up to his name as it would suggest… straight musical theatre performers, who knew?!
Follow Matt D’Silva on Twitter @MattDSilva