Another offering from The Shows Must Go on Youtube channel for the remembrance weekend. From Here to Eternity is an original musical with lyrics by Tim Rice that ran for 7 months in the West End in 2013/2014.
The musical is based on the 1951 novel of the same name, but with less censorship, it is grittier than the book and subsequent film. It tells the story of the members of G Company serving on the US island of Hawaii in the lead up to the attack on Pearl Harbour. New to the Company is Private Prewitt with a number of personal issues, keeping him focused on himself until he meets dancer Lorene. First Sergeant Warden is determined not to become a commissioned officer, but his mind is changed when he falls for his Captain’s wife. We follow their journey as their relationships and futures develop. At the same time there are the tensions within the company as they wait for action.
Flawed Private Prewitt is played by Robert Lonsdale, who strikes the balance between confident and vulnerable, his desire to do the right thing is clear. His songs reflect both sides of his character. His love interest Lorene (Siubhan Harrison) is equally conflicted, and you can feel her pain. In 2013 Darius Campbell was a celebrity casting, now his performance stands on its merits, with a strong voice, he is every inch the army man, tall and efficient, but with a loyalty to his company and his lover Karen Holmes. Karen (Rebecca Thornhill) has her history which has made her who she is, her heartfelt numbers are poignant. Angelo Maggio (Ryan Sampson) adds a touch of lightness, until things go awry, then his numbers take a deeper turn, and we see another side of the character.
In 2hr 30 mins the plot covers romance, personal ideals, racism, homophobia, bullying and adultery. The characters are well developed enabling you buy into their stories and join them on their journey.
The set design by Soutra Gilmour is simple yet very effective, especially the use of slatted blinds to see beyond the scene. Creating further impact is the lighting by Bruno Poet, which adds warmth to the romantic scenes but delivers harsh coldness in the barracks. Set and lighting combine again to create an effective depiction of the aerial attack, added to this is the choreography of Javier de Frutos. The platoon routines are polished and reflect the precision of drill while the ladies have a gentler, sensual style with some stunning lifts in the club scene.
This musical doesn’t restrict itself to one genre of music, there is blues, swing, big band, and rock and roll. All of these fit together reflecting the diversity of G Company.
I saw this production on stage in 2014, I am pleased to say that none of the look or feel of the show has been lost by putting it on screen.
With the dark storylines and violence, this isn’t a family show. The songs may not last in your memory and certainly haven’t set the musical theatre world alight, but they carry the story through. This show packs a visual punch with striking images created in each scene. If you are looking for a well told story with a touch of realism, this is for you.
Showing on You Tube until 7pm Sunday 8th November.
Reviewer: Annette Nuttall
Reviewed: 6th November 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★