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An Officer and a Gentleman comes to Kent with a script by film screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart

By Angela Cole

It had every girl wishing a man in uniform would sweep them off their feet.

The much-loved and Oscar-winning 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman starred Richard Gere as Zack Mayo, training to become a US Navy Pilot. Now a musical stage version of the film has been created - with a script written by Douglas Day Stewart who wrote the original screenplay.

The musical includes the hit song from the film Up Where We Belong, plus 80s hits including Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Toy Soldiers and Material Girl. Four-time Olivier Award-nominated actress Emma Williams plays Paula Pokrifki and Jonny Fines takes the lead role of Zack Mayo.

A scene from an Officer and a Gentleman
A scene from an Officer and a Gentleman

Writer Douglas Day Stewart based his original screenplay on his own life, after serving in the military during the Vietnam War, attending Officer Candidate School in Newport Rhode Island in 1962 - and meeting a tough drill instructor, and dating a local girl.

He was fresh from having written the screenplay for The Boy In The Plastic Bubble starring John Travolta and The Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields, he made Zack's character a motorcycle-riding tattooed young an with martial arts skills.

He said: "I think it was always my hope to do this with the film. I’ve always loved musicals since I was a little boy and saw West Side Story with my father. I mean, who doesn’t love musical theatre? I kept thinking this was a wonderful story for musical theatre, it has elements of a real Cinderella love story.

An Officer and a Gentleman will be at the Marlowe Theatre
An Officer and a Gentleman will be at the Marlowe Theatre

Read our review of the show here

"An Officer and a Gentleman is a very small, personal story and for me very autobiographical and real. But I think this is a story very much rooted in its time and genre. It’s important to remember this is a love story set in the innocence of the early 80s."

Though some of the elements of the period may not work today, the message is timeless, he added. "People want to believe that human beings can be transformed, and can transform themselves into winners. You see the excitement of the audiences when Zack comes into the factory at the end, and that excitement is still there now. I love the way the music takes a moment and makes it transcend anything written in prose. The emotions of the movie are really powerful but just you wait and see what happens when you add music."

Foley puts the new recruits through their paces in An Officer and a Gentleman
Foley puts the new recruits through their paces in An Officer and a Gentleman

DETAILS

An Officer And A Gentleman is at the Marlowe Theatre from Monday, August 6 to Saturday, August 11. For tickets, priced from £27.75 call 01227 787787, or visit marlowetheatre.com.

DID YOU KNOW?

An Officer and a Gentleman was released in 1982 and was well received by critics - some said it was the best film of 1982. It grossed $130 million, compared to its budget of just $6 million.

An Officer and a Gentleman the musical has a script by the original screenplay writer
An Officer and a Gentleman the musical has a script by the original screenplay writer

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