Tag Archives: romance

Preview: ‘An Officer and A Gentleman’

6 May

Ben Mingay and Amanda Harrison in ‘An Officer and A Gentleman’. Picture courtesy of the official website.

Based on the Academy-Award winning movie, An Officer and A Gentleman, the musical, is set to world premiere on May 18th.

The new musical, adapted to the stage by screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart, is led by a talented cast including Ben Mingay from Jersey Boys and Amanda Harrison, best known for her role as Alphaba in Wicked.  Mingay and Harrison star as the show’s lead characters – Zack Mayo and Paula Pokrifki.

The timeless love story is about a young man who wants to make a better life for himself as a naval officer and a factory worker who dreams of finding something more.  The 1982 film starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger received outstanding success as “a classic modern day love story about a working class boy and girl who must overcome their upbringing and personal weaknesses to accept life and love” (An Officer and a Gentleman the musical’s official website).

Although not originally a musical, the stage version of An Officer and A Gentleman promises to deliver spectacular performances with a sensational soundtrack by Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner.

Also starring Alex Rathgeber (Phantom of the Opera) as Sid Worley, Zack’s fellow officer candidate and friend, and Kate Kendell (Next to Normal) as Lynette Pomeroy, Paula’s best friend.

With much of the plot based around the naval academy training, the cast is required to be extremely fit, so rehearsals involved military-style boot-camp.  Check out Alex Rathgeber’s blog.

A lot has gone into the creation of this brand new musical.  Here’s a look behind the scenes of the set design:

With only a few days left until the first preview for An Officer and A Gentleman, here’s a sneak peek of what we can expect:

And here’s a look back at the original film:

An Officer and A Gentleman – Stage Whispers


Review: ‘Midsummer (A Play with Songs)’

10 Apr

Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon in ‘Midsummer (A Play with Songs)’

If you want humour, sex, alcohol, drugs, love and a bit of crime to top it off, look no further than Midsummer (A Play with Songs).

About a one-night stand between two people who really shouldn’t get together, and their weekend of adventure that ensues, Midsummer is a romantic comedy that will make you laugh, and at times, cringe at the hopeless mess of the lives of Helena and Bob.

Helena and Bob are, according to Cora Bissett who plays Helena, opposites with nothing in common besides being middle-aged, single and not knowing what they want with their lives.  Bob is a drop-out petty criminal and Helena is a career-minded divorce lawyer.

“They come from opposite ends of the spectrum and on paper they should never work,” says Bissett.

“But they’ve both reached stages in their life where they’re kind of in a real rut and they really don’t know how they’re going to go forward and the place that they’re in is not a happy one.  And they meet and something really works.  And so it is a very life-affirming story about finding hope and happiness in very unexpected places.”

And that it is.  Midsummer is guaranteed to leave you with that feel-good, uplifting feeling that romantic comedies do best.

A scene from ‘Midsummer (A Play with Songs)’.

However, this is not your average play.  With only two actors, Bissett, and co-star Matthew Pidgeon who plays Bob, the show is uniquely performed through a combination of acting, narration and talking to the audience.  This approach makes the audience feel a greater connection with Helena and Bob, as Bissett and Pidgeon talk through scenes, describing their characters’ feelings, providing background information and telling us what is about to happen before they switch back to acting and continue with the scene.

Not only do Bissett and Pidgeon play the two main characters, but they play all the minor characters too.   One minute Bissett is Helena, the next she becomes Bob’s gangster boss, or Bob’s son kicking round a football.  The ease with which both Bissett and Pidgeon change persona is impressive considering neither once leaves the stage.

“It’s just two of you on stage and it’s quite irreverent and it’s quite messy and you’re completely on the stage and there’s no kind of polite entrances and exits, everything happens on stage – you change on stage, you have sex on stage, you know, it’s all bared,” Bissett says of the challenges.

It takes a well-seasoned actor to convincingly play a man while still wearing a dress,   however, Bissett pulls it off expertly.

Although the set is Helena’s bedroom, the majority of the action takes place in other locations – a bar, a church, a park etc.  This sounds confusing, but with the narration from the actors, and the improvised use of space to pretend the bedroom is in fact a bondage club, for example, the audience is able to imagine the setting.

A scene from ‘Midsummer (A Play with Songs)’.

Music is used to help tell the story, however, the play is definitely not a musical.  Rather, an anti-musical, Midsummer features acoustic guitars and cutesy indie-type songs sung by the talented Bissett and Pidgeon, reinforcing the heartwarming, feel-good attitude.  All of a sudden, the two will grab their guitars and break out in song, which in a way adds to the comical side of the play.

The humour in Midsummer is one of its driving features.  It is blunt, satirical and at times crude – typically Scottish humour, which an Australian audience can much appreciate.  We are encouraged to laugh with the characters, at their most embarrassingly humiliating moments, as well as at the hopelessness of their situations.

“You’re going to look at the mess my life is in, but hahaha, isn’t it quite funny too? I think the humour is a little bit that, it’s kind of cheeky,” says Bissett.

Midsummer is funny, sad and romantic all in one.  For the young, middle-aged and young at heart, it has something for everyone.  We might not all be in our 30’s and facing a mid-life crisis, or still searching for our life partner, but we can all relate to that idea of change and the need to do something meaningful with our lives.  With outstanding performances by Scotland’s finest, Midsummer (A Play with Songs)is not one to miss.

The set of ‘Midsummer (A Play with Songs)’.

More Reviews:

Rom-com will melt hardest hearts

Midsummer (a play with songs)

Midsummer (a play with songs) – Arts Hub