No, this has nothing to do with Peter Gelb or opera but with the world premiere of a musical version of the hit movie An Officer and a Gentleman titled, cleverly, An Officer and a Gentleman: The Musical. The premiere took place down under in Sydney, Australia and was given a savage review in the Arts pages of The Australian by Deputy Features Editor Deborah Jones. Wrote Ms. Jones in part:
As An Officer and a Gentleman: The Musical came to its close at Friday night's world-premiere performance, the women in front of me exchanged excited glances and started wriggling with pleasure. The Oscar-winning song "Up Where We Belong" from the 1982 film was finally being let loose. It's what the women expected to hear, but more than that, there was something they expected to see, without which they would have felt badly cheated. They got it. Newly minted naval officer Zack Mayo — Ben Mingay, in the Richard Gere part — strides into the factory where Paula Pokrifki — Amanda Harrison in the Debra Winger role — is at work making boxes. Mingay scoops Harrison up into his arms. Cue cheers and thunderous applause. Then — and I kid you not — the pair head up a set of stairs to a platform on which they are solemnly transported up and out of our sight. Love lifts us up, you see. This kind of cringe-making obviousness comes as no surprise, however, given what goes before. If there is a laborious, lifeless way to have a conversation, get across a plot point or express an emotion, Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen (book) and Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner (music and lyrics) have found it.On reading the review, Mr. Stewart was understandably a bit miffed and in an utterly stupid counterattack chose class warfare as his weapon. Wrote Mr. Stewart in a piece for the same Australian Arts pages:
As the Academy Award-nominated writer of the film An Officer and a Gentleman and co-writer of the world-premiere musical that opened last Friday at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, I want to thank the enthusiastic audiences who have filled the theatre through previews and opening week performances, giving standing ovations to our talented performers. And I want to urge those of you who are reserving judgment to ignore the so-called review that appeared today in this paper. 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. Perhaps she had made her mind up before seeing the show. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that many critics pretend to represent the popular taste but often only represent an eclectic, overly intellectual point of view that allows them to insulate themselves inside a cocoon of superiority. I like to think of them as that unpopular outsider from school who can now wield a cudgel of revenge against those of us who feel true emotion. When you read a review of a new artistic effort that has only harsh negativity to offer (like the one in this paper) that is your warning that you have run into such an emotional cripple. [...] If I can be your Officer and a Gentleman for a moment, I want to warn you Sydney theatregoers how dangerous it is to have voices like this speaking on your behalf.Yeah. That'll show that Jones person a thing or two and, better, bring audiences swarming into the theater. Idiot.