From Here To Eternity - 25 October 2013 Review

The production has class, fantastic aesthetics and memorable music; all the key ingredients to a successful musical.

 

Tim Rice is back in the game after a 13 year hiatus with his latest foray into musical theatre, From Here To Eternity! The show is derived from James Jones’ novel and 8 time Academy Award winning blockbuster of the same name, both depicting events surrounding the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This original book musical defies typical movie to stage conventions and harks back to the glory days of musical theatre.

The first thing to be said about the show is that it looks really nice. From the show's artwork, the early vintage style promotional shots to the 1940’s postcard vibe of the staging, it is clear that Soutra Gilmour and Dewynters, the marketing team, put some serious thought and effort into the aesthetics of the piece. Even pop star Katy Perry was quoted cooing over the Shaftesbury Theatre signage (Metro, October 29th) Furthermore, for a lady that loves her pin curls and red lippy as well as a good muscular man, I can safely say that From Here To Eternity is certainly theatrical eye candy.

So what of Mr Rice and his collaboration with composer Stuart Brayson? I unashamedly loved the musical numbers of the show! “G Company Blues” set the military scene early on and “30 Year Man” is bound to be playing in my head for the next 30 years at least! “The Boys of ‘41” was the perfect show stopper; a bitter sweet symphony that certainly brought a tear to my eye. If memorable songs are what one strives for in a musical, then Rice and Brayson hit the nail on the head. I for one can’t wait for the original cast recording.

In the early marketing ventures of the show, the cast of From Here to Eternity were filmed undergoing grueling army style training exercises, and by the look of the men onstage and the military choreography in “G Company Blues” and “30 Year Man,” this certainly paid off. Overall I was impressed by the staging, however the slow motion bombing sequence was a disappointing climax to the tension building throughout the first and second acts.

The love story between Darius Campbell and Rebecca Thornhill, A Sergeant and his Captain’s wife, was by far the stand out narrative thread of the piece, and provides a rare “meaty” role for middle aged woman in theatre. However I did feel that some elements of the storyline as a whole were slightly under developed, for example Lorene and Private E. Lee Prewitt seem to fall in love throughout the duration of one short musical montage and the Private's decision to go from a pacifist to a fighter is similarly slap dash.

All in all, I would say there is nothing quite like this show on the West End. The production has class, fantastic aesthetics and memorable music; all the key ingredients to a successful musical.

star-rating-4.0
25 October 2013, Shaftesbury Theatre