‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ writer hits back at critic

Amanda Harrison and Ben Mingay in a scene from the stage musical "An Officer and a Gentleman" at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, Australia.
(Torsten Blackwood / AFP / Getty Images)

A scathing review of the new stage musical “An Officer and a Gentleman” has prompted the show’s writer to hit back in an editorial that recently ran in the Australian press.

Douglas Day Stewart co-wrote the book for the musical, which based on his original screenplay for the 1982 movie starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger.

“Officer” opened earlier this month at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, Australia. The musical has received mixed reviews in the Aussie press, but one review in particular has stood out for its viciousness. Critic Deborah Jones in the Australian described the musical as a “bloodless facsimile” of the movie.

“If there is a laborious, lifeless way to have a conversation, get across a plot point or express an emotion,” the members of the musical’s creative team “have found it,” she wrote in her review.


Stewart responded in an editorial that ran earlier this week in the same newspaper. “I want to urge those of you who are reserving judgment to ignore the so-called review that appeared today in this paper,” wrote Stewart.

“After four decades in this business I can tell you this was not a review by any standards. It was an ‘execution’ by someone clearly unable to feel human emotion, or to put it in a kinder way, by someone whose highbrow tastes do not represent you.”

“Officer” is directed by Simon Phillips and co-written by Sharleen Cooper Cohen. The music and lyrics are by Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner. Like the Oscar-nominated movie, which was directed by Taylor Hackford, the musical tells the story of a young Naval recruit who falls in love with a spirited young woman.

The musical is being produced in partnership with Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures.

In his editorial riposte, Stewart wrote that many critics “only represent an eclectic, overly intellectual point of view that allows them to insulate themselves inside a cocoon of superiority.”


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