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REVIEW: An Officer and a Gentleman at the Wycombe Swan

An Officer and a Gentleman is at the Wycombe Swan until Saturday, May 12

Cheryl Chapman

Cheryl Chapman

REVIEW: An Officer and a Gentleman at the Wycombe Swan

Be prepared to be swept off your feet for the latest film-to-musical extravaganza, based on the 1982 smash rom-com An Officer and a Gentleman. Directed by The Curve’s Nikolai Foster, this uplifting yet gritty musical celebrates triumph over adversity and culminates in one of the most iconic scenes in cinema.

Set in Pensacola, Florida, in 1982 – a time when Reaganomic policies sowed the seeds for  what a fairer society could look like for the working classes. US Navy pilot recruits from all backgrounds come together for a rigorous boot camp overseen by a hard-driving drill instructor, Sergeant ‘don’t eyeball me boy’ Foley (Ray Shell) .

Bad-boy cadet Zack Mayo (Jonny Fines), scarred by a nomadic upbringing and abusive father, rolls into boot camp with a tad too much swagger for Foley’s liking, who pushes him to the extreme.

Along with cadet buddy Sid (Ian McIntosh), the recruits look to blow off steam with the local girls – factory workers with little prospects looking to escape the drudgery and demons of their everyday lives.

Zack hooks up with Paula Pokrifki (Emma Williams), who’s just looking for fun. It’s a rocky road, but they fall in love.

Sid, weighed down by family expectations, gets together in an ill-fated fling with Paula’s friend Lynette (Jessica Daley), a woman intent on literally flying out of her life by becoming an aviator’s wife.

All four characters deliver gritty, raunchy, believable performances – all set to an eighties mega-hit soundtrack. The idea of setting a musical to pop hits isn’t new, and overall it works – just about. Certain covers – McIntosh’s rendition of ‘Family Man’ or Williams’ ‘Alone’ are heartfelt and tragic for example. Others are just a bit... confusing, seemingly crow-barred in, the lyrics not really suiting the moment.

That said, there’s lots to enjoy, be it the stylish army barrack set, the factory workers’ power ballards, the cadets’ physical work outs (phew!) and of course the **SPOILER ALERT! bit we’re all waiting for, when Mayo, all handsome in his navy whites, sweeps Paula up in his arms for a happily ever after.

Please be advised An Officer and a Gentleman contains themes of an adult nature and strong language.


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