REVIEW: From Here To Eternity, Charing Cross Theatre ✭✭✭

Last Updated on 10th November 2022

Mark Ludmon reviews the new London revival of Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson’s musical, From Here to Eternity, at Charing Cross Theatre

From Here To Eternity review
Jonathan Bentley (Prewitt) and Desmonda Cathabel (Lorene) Photo: Alex Brenner
From Here to Eternity: The Musical
Charing Cross Theatre, London
Three stars
Book TicketsIt is nine years since Stuart Brayson and Tim Rice‘s testosterone-filled musical of one-time bestseller From Here to Eternity first reached the London stage. Now in a smaller space than the original Shaftesbury Theatre, Brett Smock’s new revival gains much-needed intimacy for its story about the chaotic lives of career soldiers on a barracks in Hawaii in the weeks leading up to the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. However, despite a superb cast and a revamp of the book, the show still lacks enough focus to create an engaging connection with the disparate characters as the much bigger, devastating event gets ever nearer.

From Here To Eternity musical
The cast of From Here To Eternity. Photo: Alex Brenner

There is a lot going on in this intense musical drama based on James Jones’s 1951 novel, later adapted into a classic film starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr. Within one army company, we have a sergeant, Milt Warden, having a secret affair with his captain’s dissatisfied wife, while a young soldier, Robert Prewitt, struggles with guilt over injuring someone in a boxing fight while also trying to pursue a relationship with a sex worker. Another soldier, Angelo Maggio, suffers from bullying partly because of his Italian heritage while another soldier wrestles with his homosexuality – a sub-plot that is almost overwhelmed by the main storyline. The book, written by Bill Oakes and Donald Rice, weaves these different strands together with lucidity but it remains fragmentary. The female characters also feel one-dimensional despite strong performances by Carley Stenson as the captain’s wife, Karen, and Desmonda Cathabel as Prewitt’s lover, Lorene.

Charing Cross Theatre
Carley Stenson as Karen. Photo: Alex Brenner

The show has a pleasant and rousing score thanks to Brayson’s music and Rice’s lyrics, with some fine arrangements and orchestrations by musical director Nick Barstow. While some of the songs are more expositional than memorable, there are plenty of show-stopping numbers such as Prewitt’s “Fight the Fight”, the angry “I Love the Army” and the opening “G Company Blues” where the young male ensemble demonstrate an impressive ability to sing perfectly while doing sit-ups and press-ups. Eve Polycarpou, as brothel owner Mrs Kipfer, makes the most of her jaded ballad, “I Know What You Came For” and later joins Stenson and Cathabel for the show’s most powerful and moving number, “The Boys of ‘41”.

From Here To Eternity
The Boys of 41. Photo: Alex Brenner
The success of these numbers owes much to the skills of the cast and Brett Smock’s tight direction. Jonathon Bentley stands out as the troubled Prewitt alongside Adam Rhys-Charles as Warden and Jonny Amies as the rebellious Maggio. Alan Turkington proves himself to be officer material as the finely moustachioed captain, Dana Holmes. With energetic and cleverly drilled choreography by Cressida Carré, the show fills the small multi-angled stage with movement and energy, framed by Stewart J Charlesworth’sminimalist set featuring two token palm trees and steel girders for the cast to climb. The show may not have risen to new heights in this revival but it is worth seeing for the brilliant performances of its talented young cast.
From Here to Eternity runs at the Charing Cross Theatre in London to 17 December 2022.



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