'An Officer and a Gentleman' Stage Musical to Premiere in 2020 Tour

Paramount Pictures/Photofest
Debra Winger and Richard Gere in 'An Officer and a Gentleman'

The theatrical adaptation of the 1982 movie that starred Richard Gere and Debra Winger will launch a North American road company in the fall of next year.

The melodic strains of "Up Where We Belong," which were inescapable in the early '80s, are about to be heard again.

That Oscar-winning song, originally recorded by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes and popularized in An Officer and a Gentleman, will be featured in a stage musical adaptation of that hit 1982 Taylor Hackford movie, set to premiere in a North American tour beginning in fall 2020.

The film starred Richard Gere as Zack Mayo, an arrogant Navy brat whose attitude problems cause him to clash with a tough boot camp sergeant assigned to train and evaluate aviation officer candidates, a role that won a best supporting actor Oscar for Louis Gossett Jr. A romance with a local factory worker played by Debra Winger and a tragedy involving a fellow candidate prompt Zack to reconsider his choices.

The movie's final scene, in which Gere walked onto the factory floor in dress whites and literally swept Winger off her feet, tossing his hat up in the air, was both widely celebrated and parodied.

Dick Scanlan, a Tony Award nominee for Thoroughly Modern Millie and Everyday Rapture, will write the book for the new musical, based on Douglas Day Stewart's screenplay and on an earlier version of the book by Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen that played a short run in Australia and was revised for a 2018 U.K. tour.

Scanlan also will direct the reworked musical, with choreography by Patricia Wilcox, music supervision and arrangements by Dan Lipton and orchestrations and arrangements by George Dyer.

In addition to "Up Where We Belong," the score draws from a catalog of 1980s hit songs.

"The lift, the officer's hat, the song...sometimes one moment embeds itself in the cultural memory of a generation," said producer Stephen Gabriel of Work Light Productions in a statement. "That's where live theater really shines, in its ability to create a world that earns that big moment."

"Like all good stories, An Officer and a Gentleman is set in a specific world with its own culture, customs and costumes — the U.S. Navy," added Scanlan. "And like all great stories, its themes are universal: love, valor and the ways in which our reasons for pursuing a dream determine whether or not we'll achieve it."

Exact dates, cities and casting are to be announced for the tour, which is produced by Work Light Productions in association with Jamie Wilson, Curve, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros., and being booked and marketed by Bond Theatrical Group.

The decision to take the property on the regional route rather than set Broadway plans reflects the commercial path of other romantic screen blockbusters of the 1980s and '90s retooled for the stage. Musicals based on The Bodyguard and Dirty Dancing both had London runs but their North American iterations never made it to New York, while Ghost transferred from the West End to Broadway and was swiftly killed by withering reviews.