80s classics in new musical An Officer and a Gentleman
Emma Williams originated the new stage musical version of Love Story in Chichester's Minerva Theatre eight years ago.
She was also in the new Chichester Festival Theatre version of Half A Sixpence a couple of years back.
Now she is on the road with the new musical based on the smash-hit film An Officer and a Gentleman (Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, May 1-5)
“Creatively it is wonderful to work on something from the roots level. It is nothing planned, but I seem to do it a lot – and it is great to almost be developing the characters by talking with the writers and the director and just finding ways to build on them. I love working on new stuff. It’s never intentional, but just the way it has worked out – and it means that I have had the chance to work with some wonderful directors. It has been brilliant.
“It gives you freedom because the show is still a work that is in flux. Every actor when you go into something, whether it is the first time or the 43rd time, can always put their stamp on it, but with a new piece the scenes and the characters are still being tweaked and worked out. And you have to be very open in the way you work together, just to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s only by being open that you can change things.”
And inevitably things will change as the tour progresses. These are still very early days for the production which will tour through until September.
“Things change once the audience comes in. That’s why previews are so great. There is only so much you can do in the rehearsal room. You always discover new things when you have got an audience – and you always discover new things as you go from city to city. Every city is different. Audiences in regional theatre will always like different things, and that’s what makes it do interesting.”
The show is based closely on the hit film.
Zack Mayo is in training to become a US Navy Pilot. When he rolls into boot camp with a bit too much of a swagger, drill Sergeant Foley doesn’t make life easy for him. When he falls for local girl Paula Pokrifki (Emma) and tragedy befalls his friend and fellow candidate, Zack realises the importance of love and friendship and finds the courage to be himself and win the heart of the woman he loves. It’s only then he can truly become an Officer and a Gentleman…
The show includes the hit song from the movie ‘Up Where We Belong’ to which the production adds plenty of 80s classic anthems including ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’, ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’, ‘Heart of Glass’, ‘Material Girl’, ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud’, ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’, and ‘The Final Countdown’.
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2