I WASN’T sure what to expect from this show: would it be, as my other half said when he turned down the chance to accompany me, full of 50-something women trying to recapture their youth and an adolescent passion for Richard Gere?

Nostalgia is a big thing these days, and theatres are full of musicals created from films and songs. I thought Dirty Dancing worked brilliantly on stage, and I’ve always loved this 80s classic too. That said, Dirty Dancing had a soundtrack to die for on screen, whereas this film really had only one standout number, and as Up Where We Belong brings the story to a close, surely it wasn’t enough to sustain a whole evening’s entertainment?

For those who’ve never seen An Officer and a Gentleman it’s a simple enough plot. Zack Mayo is the boy from the wrong side of the Navy tracks who harbours dreams of becoming a naval aviator. Having won his place at The Academy, he’s warned off the local girls, whose own dream is to marry their way into a lifestyle as an officer’s wife. When he meets Paula, will love prevail?

Jonny Fines makes a real hit as Zack Mayo, with his own brand of clean-cut good looks, a very impressive physique and a really strong voice, as well as enough depth of feeling to make the character believable. Ian McIntosh is charmingly naïve as his ill-fated best friend Sid, again with classic looks and strong vocals.

Emma Williams and Jessica Daley play girls on the make Paula and Lynette, and also have outstanding voices. For my money Jessica made the better job of making her rather hard character believable, while Emma didn’t quite manage to bring out Paula’s vulnerability.

Rachel Stanley is a smash as Paula’s mother Esther, with a wonderfully strong voice and warm personality, while Darren Bennett, as Zack’s father Byron, brought a depth to the role missing from the film version.

The soundtrack features a host of 80s anthems, which have been chosen, Mamma Mia-style, as much for their lyrics as for their sounds. And they’ve kept much of the film’s dialogue, and comedy, including numerous lines fans will recognise.

Characters like the dreaded training officer Foley, and determined girl candidate Casey Seegar, are there too.

This is not just a sugar-sweet romance, however, with a darker sub-plot prompting the warning that the show is not for under-12s. Current preoccupation with the importance of being honest about mental health makes this a very topical line, as it examines how one person’s cruelty can affect another to the point of despair.

Monday’s first night warmed up a little slowly, but the second half built the tension and drama to a brilliant crescendo with that song. And yes, there were many of my generation in the audience.

This is the world premiere of what I can see being, deservedly, a big hit with an enduring run. Whether you love the film or have never seen it, enjoy a thoroughly entertaining night out.