An Officer and a Gentleman takes flight once more in a breathtaking musical adaptation at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
Troubled Zack Mayo (Jonny Fines) tries to make something of his life by taking part in gruelling officer training to gain his wings with the US Navy in this Oscar-winning tale, but romance blossoms when he meets local girl Paula Pokrifki (Emma Williams).
Fines and Williams make a wonderful leading pair and there is strong support from Ian McIntosh as Zack’s hapless buddy Sid and Ray Shell as brutal drill instructor Emil Foley.
Meanwhile Darren Bennett skillfully portrays Zack’s profligate father Byron and Rachel Stanley is exceptional as Paula’s mother Esther.
The story is told with a seamless, rapid-fire tour de force of the decade's chart hits as its backdrop. And the most striking feature of this production, beyond the fact every fibre of its being is so wonderfully 80s, is its clever deployment of those hits and the incredible standard of the cast’s vocals in the neat arrangements.
Fines’ beautifully soulful, high voice, which excels in ‘I Was Made for Lovin You’ is matched perfectly by the power and range of Williams which shines particularly brightly in a brilliant rendition of Heart's classic hit ‘Alone’.
Say what you like about the musical integrity of 80s hits, much of them did require immense vocal range and strength and this company’s vocals are a strong as you will find in any show.
Stanley’s belting voice is terrific, particularly in ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ and an emotional performance of ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud’ with Williams which brings the house down. Meanwhile Mcintosh’s beautiful performance of ‘Family Man’ is delivered with real feeling.
The energy never dips and Kate Prince's clever, snappy choreography is faultless throughout, as are the rapid set changes.
This clever, energetic and hugely entertaining musical recreation of a classic 80s story is a real hit and audience members were on their feet by the time Paula was swept off hers in the iconic closing scene.
An Officer and a Gentleman plays at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 19 May.
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