From Here to Eternity – Review

From Here to Eternity: Charing Cross Theatre, London

8th November 2022

Tim Rice‘s epic musical From Here to Eternity returns to London for the first time in eight years in this exciting new production at London’s Charing Cross Theatre. Featuring a gripping tale of illicit love and army life, From Here to Eternity is an exhilarating and romantic musical set against the backdrop of Pearl Harbor in 1941. This new production features an updated score, with all-new musical numbers, newly orchestrated by Nick J Barstow. 

The first act of this new production has been extensive rewritten. The story remains the same but there is now a new emphasis on Prewitt’s reluctance to fight and less on relationships between him and his fellow company members and Lorene. Due to the new script some of the relationships are not explored in depth and this leads to the audience lacking empathy for the characters. Because the ensemble has been reduced there are entire scenes have simply been removed and replaced with one or two lines of dialogue which means unfortunately, at times, the storylines are hard to follow due to the extensive changes to the script and plot. As a result, some of the issues dealt with such as homosexuality, racism, suicide and sexism feel glossed over and lack impact.

The second act is far more recognisable and the direction for the finale is fantastic given the small stage. Jonny Amies performs ‘I Love The Army’ extremely well and this is certainly a highlight of the show. The second act allows the audience to have more empathy for Prewitt and Maggio and certainly develops the characters further. It is a shame that the emotion shown during the second act is not as present during the first.

Some of the original score remains such as ‘Thirty Year Man’, ‘Run Along Joe’ and ‘Love Me Together Today’ but there are also major changes to the score with original songs being replaced with new arrangements and songs by Nick J Barstow. This particularly affects Karen’s character whose songs have been completely rewritten. The character herself loses some of her vulnerability’s which made audiences fall for her. Karen’s new song ‘I’ll Remember The Day’ is very good and performed well by Carley Stenson. However, without the duet with Warden it is hard to feel anything about the relationship between them. The new songs are well written and performed effectively but at times feel underwhelming. All of the cast perform very well throughout the show but, perhaps due to the army like stance and manner, sometimes lack emotion. Luckily the superb finale number ‘The Boys of ‘41’ has remained and the new arrangement of ‘Fight The Fight’ is particularly moving with Jonathon Bentley performing this song brilliantly.

The set by Stewart J Charlesworth is cleverly designed and the simplicity works well with the traverse style of staging. There are times when the actors are not always visible due to the large construction pieces but mostly the view is good from all angles. The simple set pieces also work well and transitions are quick and effective. Adam Kinge’s lighting further adds to the dramatic effect and are used well in the final scenes.

It is often hard to watch a new production of a much loved show and not compare it with the original. As always, theatre is ever changing and evolving and everyone has different opinions and viewpoints about shows which is the beauty of live theatre. If you are new to From Here to Eternity then this is a well put together show which utilises the space well. If you are familiar with the original then be aware that this is a very different production to the original. Go in with an open mind, sit back and enjoy.

From Here to Eternity runs at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 17th December. For information and tickets click here.

Photo Credit: Mark Senior.

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