An Officer And A Gentleman – rehearsals commence in Sydney

An Officer and a Gentleman first day rehearsals
Ben Mingay and Amanda Harrison at An Officer and a Gentleman first day rehearsals

Rehearsals for the world premiere production of An Officer And A GentlemanThe Musical began today in a flurry of media attention.

The show’s formidable creative team and 26-strong cast assembled this morning in a rehearsal room at the ABC Studios Ultimo, where an excited George Souris, NSW Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Arts ‘launched’ the rehearsals with alacrity and enthusiasm.

Co-Producer John Frost also addressed the room, explaining that while Australian producers often choose to purchase and present existing musicals from overseas, it is necessary for our industry to be proactive in the development of new work.

“There are two ways of doing musicals. You can go to New York or London and buy a production… (which I have done)…Or you can walk down the dangerous road and do a musical that has never been done, such as An Officer and a Gentleman”, he said.

An Officer And A Gentleman is based on the iconic film of the same name, written by Douglas Day Stewart (who has also co-written the musical’s book with Sharleen Cooper Cohen), joins the ranks of new musicals created (or polished) in Australia: Dr Zhivago, Dirty Dancing, Priscilla, Love Never Dies, Moonshadow and King Kong to name a few.

As Frost pointed out today, there is a significant amount of history associated with the show, and despite being a brand new work, the road to success has by no means been been a short one.

With two workshops, one in Melbourne and one in New York, readings and rewrites, the musical has undergone a 12 year gestation period. Thankfully for Australia’s enormous talent base, choosing Australia as a host for the world premiere was a no-brainer, says co-producer and co-writer Sharleen Cooper Cohen.

“More people are seeing the marvelous talent pool in Australia, the wonderful facilities that are available and the opportunities to get away from the mainstream gossip of America and work on a product free from that where you can really see it from the ground up”, said Cooper Cohen.

“It’s a much better investment because we can do a commercial run here and our investors can earn money rather than what goes on in the United States. If you were to mount a brand new musical in a regional theatre, it would be a short run … and the investors don’t make money”

The bare model set for An Officer and a Gentleman

Director Simon Phillips revealed that the set will feature a double revolve and a large super-structure of gantries, which even as a model set at the side of the rehearsal room, looks extremely impressive.

“Because it’s been taken from a movie, it has a lot of scenes in it. Shortish scenes which need to move really fluidly”, he said.

The complex design also features a staircase which configures in two different ways, sits on the centre revolve, and connects to the gantries in various different positions.

Despite this morning’s media intrusion, the company of An Officer and a Gentleman gave an impressive impromptu performance of the show’s most recognised song Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong. A special video feature will be online later this week with interviews from Ben Mingay, Bert La Bonte, Douglas Day Stewart and Simon Phillips.

An Officer and a Gentleman will open at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre, The Star on May 18, 2012.

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Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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