From Here to Eternity had its world premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2013. The show received mixed reviews from critics and ran for just 6 and a half months. This production is the first revival of the show since its premiere. The show is currently on at the Charing Cross Theatre. For full disclosure, I have not seen the original production so am unable to compare – this review is of the new production on its own.

Credit: Mark Senior

Based on the uncensored version of the1951 novel by James Jones, this production centres around men in the US Army in 1941. Focusing on two affairs in particular. Private Prewitt (Jonathon Bentley) falls in love with sex worker, Lorene (Desmonda Cathabel). And Sergeant Warden (Adam Rhys-Charles) is having an affair with his Captain’s wife, Karen (Carley Stenson).

Stewart J. Charlesworth’s set is mirrored on both sides, meaning both sections of the auditorium have an identical view of the staging. It’s also full of tricks, there’s hidden ladder rungs, and one of the pillars opens to become a bar. Palm trees stand in the auditorium, transporting the audience to the exotic Hawaiian location which the musical is set in. Dates are projected onto the upper frame of the staging, giving the audience a sinister countdown to the date that we all know is coming – Sunday, December 7th, 1941.

Other video projections are utilised, to varying degrees of success. At times I was unsure what the projections were supposed to be, and at other times they worked seamlessly, with harmonious cohesion from the sound and lighting design, portraying the beach among other locations. 

Bentley’s performance is the one that steals this show, filled with emotion, he ensures the audience connects with Prewitt, making his ultimate scenes all the more gut wrenching. The chemistry between Bentley and Cathabel is undeniable and makes their relationship believable. Their voices fit together perfectly, and create some exceptionally beautiful harmonies. I feel that because we discover more about Prewitt throughout the show, this makes our emotional connection stronger to this character. Compared to Warden who apart from his affair we know next to nothing about, it’s therefore difficult to connect with him. 

Another standout performance comes from Jonny Amies as Maggio, who brings a charisma to his performance, which is endearing. 

This musical’s score is by Stuart Brayson with lyrics by the incomparable Tim Rice. Rice’s musical theatre back catalogue is comprehensive, and whilst his work here is great – it’s definitely not the best work of his career either.

Credit: Mark Senior

Musically, the entire cast are strong. But there is one moment in particular that brings the house down, and that is ‘Fight the Fight’ performed by Bentley. With backing vocals by the male ensemble, this is a sensational performance that proves Bentley as a powerhouse. This is the highlight of the show for me. 

For a musical I did expect more dancing and large scale numbers, and I do feel that more choreography would elevate the show. I also did find that the pacing could use some work, Act One did feel quite lengthy and spent a long time setting up the story. Act Two is where all the magic happens, where we settle into the story, care about for the characters and the emotions of the production are brought to the forefront. 

From Here To Eternity ends with the names of all The Boys of 41 projected onto the stage, in a finale that ensures everyone in the audience sheds a tear. It’s a powerful story, and beautifully portrayed. This production is visually stunning, and the creative team behind this show deserve the highest recognition for this. This is a show not to be missed!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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