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Officer and a Gentleman star on the iconic scene that will have Liverpool audiences gasping

1 week ago

Officer and a Gentleman star on the iconic scene that will have Liverpool audiences gasping
Credit: An Officer and a Gentlemen

As Zack Mayo in An Officer and A Gentleman the Musical, Luke Baker is taking on one of the best-loved roles in 80s cinema.

When An Officer and A Gentleman the Musical arrives at the Liverpool Empire later this month, the story will be well known to audiences who love the Richard Gere and Debra Winger film version.

And, says Luke, while they follow the highs and lows of the US Navy recruit’s life, there’s one scene in particular that they’ll be waiting for most.

“When it gets to Love Lift Us Up you feel this audible gasp, all in synch, and quite often people just start a massive round of applause even before I’ve done anything,” he laughs. “I just turn up at the back of the stage and they lose it, you can hear them going ‘this is the bit, this is the bit’ and grabbing each other.

“We sell these officer hats in the merch store and the other day four women at the matinee were having a howler of a time the whole show and they just started throwing them in the air!

“Everyone does love that part but you’ve got to get them on side before that so they believe the relationship and then they’re crying by that point anyway. It’s the basic stuff but if you do it right then everyone comes along with you and that’s what you want, that’s the beauty of live theatre.”

Credit: Luke Baker
Credit: Luke Baker

The love story has made a hugely successful transition from movie to theatre and Yorkshire-born Luke has been a part of that from the start.

“I did one of the workshops about nine years ago for Leicester Curve when they first got the rights, I was one of the soldiers just reading it round a table with other actors, and we did a presentation for the producer. 

“When they said they were putting it on tour I was going into Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in the West End so I thought that was the end of it. But I got my audition through for this tour and I knew what it was, what the songs were and what the vibe was but because I didn’t see the last tour I didn’t have a preconceived idea of what the character should be like so I just went in with my version.”

Filling the leading man shoes of a Hollywood superstar like Richard Gere might seem like a daunting task, but Luke says audiences soon believe his portrayal.

“Richard Gere nails it and people cared about the characters, I think that’s the big thing about An Officer and a Gentleman, but he’s just got the script and done what he’s seen in it and I do the same. 

Officer and a Gentleman artwork. Credit: Liverpool Empire
Officer and a Gentleman artwork. Credit: Liverpool Empire

“Obviously something like the lift has to be perfect, but we’re not trying to imitate the film or anyone in it because I think people don’t believe it then, they see it as an impersonation. If you were doing a Rocky musical, that’s different because you would have to imitate Sly Stallone because he’s so iconic as that character but I think this is different.

“There is a degree of pressure but I take myself very seriously, I do all the preparation and I try and make sure it’s believable – I think when you do that it’s not so hard because audiences come along with you and buy into it.”

This tour, which comes to Liverpool from July 22, has been playing to packed houses around the country.

Part of the appeal is the music – an 80s soundtrack of hits – and it’s also a chance to revisit what feels like an old friend.

“People recognise the characters and the story and they know they like it,” says Luke. “Often shows that could be really good don’t end up doing as well because people don’t know what to expect, so I think that familiarity is why a lot of film to stage musicals work, especially now when people don’t have the extra funds to be seeing absolutely everything.

“When I got this job, my agent told me it had sold so well before they even cast it and that tells you everything. You want to be in a show where people come, they love it and you get the great ending. You get to finish work every night like that and you’ve got to be grateful for it. It’s just a gift of a role and I’m lapping it up every time.”

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical is at the Liverpool Empire from July 22-27. 

To book tickets to An Officer and a Gentlemen The Musical click here.

For the latest news in Liverpool click here.

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