From Here To Eternity
Tim Rice gets top-billing in this musical version of James Jones’ classic best-selling novel about GIs in Hawaii before and during the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941. His lyrics are solidly professional and the best thing about this adaptation, which was filmed live at the Shaftsbury Theatre, London, in September 2013.
The story revolves around two love affairs within the G Company barracks: the career-soldier Private Bob Prewitt falls for the prostitute Lorene, whilst his platoon Sergeant, Milt Warden, has an affair with the commanding officer’s wife, Karen. And to add comedy (not enough) is the male-hustler Angelo Maggio.
When the novel was first published in 1951 it was heavily censored and Jones was forced to remove a lot of the prostitution and gay sex references. The uncensored novel was first released in 2011 and the musical is based on this version. The idea of turning the book into a musical came from the show’s composer, Stuart Brayson, a former member of the band Pop. It’s not the greatest musical, nor the greatest score to come out of the West End, but it’s well-sung and there are some good performances.
Former Pop-Idol Darius Campbell has a big, booming bass and stands out as Milt Warden, whilst Rebecca Thornhill eats up the cheating wife role, and together they’re a powerhouse, particularly on the first act closer ‘More Than America’.
Robert Lonsdale also does well as Bob Prewitt, and in the second-act’s ‘Ain’t Where I Wanna Be Blues’, he and Campbell deliver one of the best sequences in the show.
‘Military Life’ is a good character number for the GIs, while the escort girls bring loads of raunch to ‘You Got the Money’. Also effective is the anthemic ‘The Boys of ‘41’ sung by the girls against the backdrop of the Japanese bomber attack.
Army brutalization, gay bashing, murder and rampant sexuality feature in what is a long night in the musical theatre. The cast look good, and there’s plenty of testosterone on display, but it’s a pity that Javier De Frutos’ dance routines weren’t just a little bit more inventive.