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Paul French (An Officer and a Gentleman)

After delighting audiences back in 2018, An Officer and a Gentleman returns on another UK tour. The story, which is based on the 1980's movie of the same title, follows the emotional journey of fearless young officer candidate Zack Mayo. Featuring a smash-hit soundtrack of songs by Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper and many more, An Officer and a Gentleman is a timeless story of love, courage and redemption. We take the opportunity to speak to Paul French, who is currently playing Sid (Mayo's best friend), to tell us more.

Q) For those who are not already familiar with An Officer and a Gentleman, can you tell us a little bit more about the story?

An Officer and a Gentleman follows the story of Zack Mayo who signs up for the Aviation Academy. He aspires to become a naval jet fighter as he doesn’t have much going for him and is fed up with his circumstances. Along the way you meet Sergeant Foley who puts him through his paces to breaking point, and he thinks Zack’s got an attitude problem. Zack also has an unexpected love affair with Paula who hangs around the naval base, whilst also finding a best friend in Sid, who’s also at the academy (that’s me). Zack faces some tragedy and has to decide what it really is that he wants from life.

Q) An Officer and a Gentleman was a well-received movie back when it was released in 1982, what do you think it is about this story that makes for a good musical and will resonate well with theatre fans?

This show is as much a classic love story as it is a high stakes drama. This blends together to make a gripping and compelling evening of storytelling. As well as going hand in hand with the best and most iconic tunes from the 80’s, making it a perfect theatre trip.

Q) This musical previously toured the UK back in 2018 (which was also directed by Nikolai Foster), will this production closely follow the previous production, or can audiences expect a fresh take on this musical?

Yes this production has some of the creatives from last time, but also new ones in other areas as well - making this a fresh and new take on the production, with the creative team having the license they have to put their own stamp on it. It’s an amalgamation of visions from some of the best in the business. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Q) You will be playing the role of Sid Worley, what is it about this character that stood out to you?

Sid is the light-hearted sort of comic relief throughout if you will. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and is always up for busting a joke. But what’s interesting to play with Sid, is that no matter what the front he puts on, his inner demons are as bad as they get, making him more complex than meets the eye. Sid is living for his parents and their expectations when truly he has other aspirations he wants to follow. Lynette, a local girl who he totally falls for, helps him find courage and within that Sid can blossom. Without giving away too much, a series of tragedies means that his world is flipped upside down. There’s so much to his story and he is a gift to play.

Q) You’ve had a successful couple of years from being nominated for Best Performer at the WhatsOnStage Awards in 2023 for the role of Kenickie in Grease at the Dominion Theatre, to playing Rooster in Annie (UK Tour) and Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (Curve Theatre). These are all quite different characters, what strategies/methods do you use to develop your characterisations?

That’s very kind of you to say. I think I always bring some of myself to the character so that I can make it as authentic as possible. I think the difference is looking out of different lenses every time and using characterisation methods and my body for that to translate into very different characters each time. My Kenickie was cool, calm and collected, and I barely moved my body, face and had minimal pitch change. It was all about presence and his aura, when he entered a room you would know. Rooster was a different type of cool, cool that has danger and unpredictability behind the eyes. If pushed, he could be a maniac. And Tin Man was…..well essentially a robot and was heavily based on my physicality. But these are all the types of things that I love figuring out in the rehearsal room with the guidance of the creatives.

Q) You’ve recently opened An Officer and a Gentleman, how has the process been so far?

So far, it has been an utter joy. Again, a different type of role to roles that I’ve done before, so it’s been fun finding my Sid and building these on stage relationships as well as off stage.

Q) An Officer and a Gentleman features some incredible music from Madonna, Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper and Blondie. What songs do you enjoy performing?

I must say, quite selfishly, my favourite is Living on a Prayer, which I open act 2 with. It’s set in the local bar and is Sid’s karaoke entry. The song starts with just him and his girlfriend Lynette and by the end, the WHOLE bar is involved. It’s a riot.

Q) What can audiences expect from An Officer and a Gentleman?

Audiences can expect an evening of quality music whilst also revisiting one of the most classic romantic films of that era. Also, met with a fresh take to keep it fresh new and alive. You’ll be tapping your foot in your seat, but also don’t forget the tissues because this will make you feel every emotion.

An Officer and a Gentleman is currently playing at the King's Theatre in Glasgow until 9th March. The tour will visit theatres up and down the UK up until November 2024, including Venue Cymru (19th - 23rd March), New Wimbledon Theatre (1st - 6th April), Manchester Opera House (30th April - 4th May) and Liverpool Empire (22nd - 27th July). For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.

Photography by Marc Brenner


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