The world premiere of An Officer and a Gentleman has joined a raft of musical productions heading to Sydney over the next two years, but there is no news yet about who will play the role made famous by Richard Gere in the 1982 film of the same name.
At the musical's launch yesterday aboard HMAS Sydney at Garden Island, producer John Frost said only that about 80 per cent of the roles had been cast.
The book was written by Douglas Day Stewart - who wrote the original screenplay based on his experience in the US Navy - and the musical is expected to remain faithful to the film, including using its theme song Up Where we Belong, which topped US charts in 1982.
Frost had been in discussions with Day Stewart and co-writer Sharleen Cooper Cohen for some years and had hoped to premiere the musical this year.
''But we got a little deferred with other projects,'' he said. Frost's focus this year was Dr Zhivago, which premiered in Sydney before going to Melbourne then Brisbane, where it finished its run on Sunday.
Cooper Cohen was already looking at turning the film into a musical when Frost approached her.
''I was looking for my next project and I went down a list of my favourite love stories,'' she said of how she decided to go for An Officer and a Gentleman.
''Men really identify with [male lead] Zack because he has to overcome huge obstacles to succeed, and the story is based on brilliant source material,'' she said. ''For me, it was just the perfect vehicle for a musical.''
Director Simon Phillips, who has had success directing Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Love Never Dies after his long stint as artistic director of the Melbourne Theatre Company, said when Frost brought the concept to him he thought there was an obvious audience of women who would have seen the movie when they were teenagers or in their 20s.
''It is that movie they watched and thought 'that could have been me','' he said.
Composer Ken Hirsch and lyricist Robin Lerner have written 17 songs for the musical, which will premiere at the Lyric Theatre on May 24 next year.
It follows Annie, also staged by Frost, at the Lyric Theatre in December, Rock of Ages at the Theatre Royal in January and Legally Blonde at the Capitol mid-next year. The Addams Family and Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom will open in 2013.
Tickets for An Officer and a Gentleman, which is supported by Destination NSW, go on sale in October.