REVIEW: ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, July 2018

 

For a romantic musical that will sweep you off your feet without forcing you to wallow in too much mushy sentiment theatregoers need look no further than An Officer and a Gentleman.

The classic 1982 film has been rebooted as a pacey jukebox musical that is simultaneously corny and gritty. Lifting audience members up with exuberant performances of more than twenty chart hits from the Eighties, the simple story follows the exploits of bad boy US naval officer trainee Zack Mayo and his “will they, won’t they” relationship with local factory girl Paula Pokrifki.

While the narrative is a little slow to really take off, this lightweight chick flick exploration of how ordinary people endeavour to escape deep-rooted inner demons and daily drudgery undoubtedly benefits from being paired with punchy period pop music. A score consisting of such a wide selection of half-decent tunes is surely guaranteed to have spectators of all ages tapping their feet in recognition and readily engaging with the characters’ experiences. It certainly worked for me and I am not familiar with the Oscar-winning movie at all!

 

 

An Officer and a Gentleman

 

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REVIEW: ‘Annie’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, May 2016

 

Heart-warming musical Annie is spreading a little sunshine at Milton Keynes Theatre this week and you can bet your bottom dollar that the whole family will adore its all-singing, all-dancing antics.

The rags to riches tale is set in New York City during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Against this backdrop of extreme poverty, we witness the neglect of a posse of abandoned little girls being dragged up by the spiteful, gin-guzzling matron of the city’s grubby orphanage.

It’s a hard knock life for these mischief-making mites. They are sustained only by “mush” (indeed, some days they are denied “hot mush” and merely permitted a bowl of “cold mush” to choke down) and forced to spend long days scrubbing floors and slaving away at sewing machines. Still, even this Dickensian existence is not enough to crush the spirits of a feisty red-headed foundling named Annie (no surname, no siree, it’s “just Annie”).

 

ANNIE - Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan with Annie and orphans. Photo credit Matt Crockett

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