Georgia Lennon

Georgia Lennon on her Role in an Officer and a Gentleman

An Officer and a Gentleman is coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal from 13 May. Hours before the show, we’re catching up with Georgia Lennon, playing Paula Pokrifki

Caroline Dask

Journalist at Luxe

It’s a good old-fashioned cheesy love story, following the emotional journey of Zack Mayo, a fearless young officer candidate, and the captivating Paula Pokrifki, whose fiery spirit matches his own. Their encounters ignite a spark that transcends boundaries, awakening a passionate relationship that defies all odds.

Based on the award-winning 1982 film starring Richard Gere, audiences can expect to hear familiar songs from some the 80s iconic artists, including Madonna, Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, and many more. Mix that with the highs and lows of love and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an outstanding musical.

It’s not the first time An Officer and a Gentleman has visited Newcastle Theatre Royal, as the musical stopped by in 2018, leaving audiences wanting for more. Now, as the musical makes its very much-awaited return, we’re speaking to Georgia Lennon, an actress with North East roots, on her role as Paula Pokrifki.

What drew you to the character of Paula Pokrifki?

What I love most about Paula is that she’s a real character, representative of girl power. She’s so strong-willed and she knows exactly what she wants. I really admire that and I think it’s important to show that for audience members, especially young girls watching.

Paula never sets her sights on falling head over heels for an officer candidate, but it happens and it shows how love triumphs all in the end. It’s such a beautiful role to play because I can channel being an independent, fiery, feisty and strong-willed woman.

Georgia Lennon

How did you prepare for the role?

I’m a thorough researcher, so when I received the audition for the show, my first step was diving into research. I hadn’t seen the movie before, so I immediately watched it on my laptop. The whole story captivated me, and I knew I wanted to be part of the show. Then, after landing the role, I watched the film a few more times to grasp its essence. When it came to rehearsals, I’ve tried to make the role my own, infusing my interpretation into the character.

The relationship between Paula and Zack is central to the musical. How do you and Luke Baker, playing Zack, work to create chemistry and authenticity in portraying this complex relationship?

Working with Luke has been an absolute joy. He’s not just a talented actor, but also an amazing person. Right from the start of rehearsals, we clicked. There’s this natural chemistry and trust between us that makes exploring our characters together so much fun. We’re constantly bouncing ideas off each other, trying new things, and pushing the boundaries of our roles.

Our friendship offstage seeps into our performances, adding layers of authenticity and depth to Paula and Zack’s relationship. We’ve become really good friends, and that friendship shines through every night. Luke is a gem. I promise he didn’t pay me to say that!

Luke Baker

Are there specific scenes or moments in the musical that you find particularly challenging or rewarding to perform as Paula?

Absolutely. There are two moments that stand out for me in the musical. The first is a scene in Act One where Paula and Lynette are preparing for the officer’s ball. We have to change costumes on stage while singing, which adds an extra layer of challenge. It requires careful coordination and concentration, especially since I’m also ‘driving’ the car on stage!

Another rewarding moment is my solo number ‘Alone’ in Act Two, which is a pivotal moment for Paula. I always like to get in the right mindset before I perform it, just to make sure that the acting stays true to the beauty of the song.

In what ways, if any, does your portrayal of Paula differ from previous interpretations, either in film or other stage productions?

I definitely draw inspiration from Deborah Winger’s portrayal of Paula, as it’s what fans of the film are familiar with and love. However, being part of a new stage production allows me to bring my own interpretation of the character.

I’ve embraced this opportunity to add my own flair while still honouring the essence of Paula that audiences expect. It’s about striking a balance between staying true to the character’s roots and infusing it with my own connection and interpretation.

Georgia Lennon

As someone from Hartlepool, how does it feel to bring this show to your hometown region?

I’m so excited to bring this back home. It’s a really special one for me because I get to have all of my family, friends and teachers there with me, all of the people that supported my from day one. It feels like such a special and huge achievement!

It’s also very nostalgic for me as Newcastle Theatre Royal was a venue I used to visit as a child. I would sit there and watch all these shows and be inspired by the people on stage. And now, I get to be one of these people! It’s definitely a pinch-me moment, it’s everything I’ve dreamed of and it’s just very very special to me.

An Officer and a Gentleman addresses themes of love, ambition, and self-discovery. From your perspective, what messages or lessons can audiences take away from Paula’s story?

An Officer and a Gentleman really delves into some deep themes that hit home for a lot of us. Of course, there’s the classic message that love can conquer anything, which is pretty heartwarming. But what I find really touching is how Paula’s story teaches us to trust our gut and stand by what we believe in, no matter what. She’s all about having that fierce willpower and not backing down, and I think that’s something we can all relate to.

And then there’s this beautiful celebration of friendship. Seeing Paula’s bond with Lynette, and all these other friendships bubbling up, really reminds us of the power of having people who’ve got your back.

An Officer and a Gentleman with Georgia Lennon as Paula Pokrifki is coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal from 13 until 18 May.