I think this is going to be a bit of an odd review. I would go so far as to say ‘From Here To Eternity’ is one of the worst musicals I have seen in a long long while; however, I didn’t exactly hate it and for a 2 hour 40-minute musical I wasn’t particularly enjoying, the time didn’t drag. It was oddly engrossing given there were so many moments where I thought ‘they’ had got it so very very wrong.
Based on the novel by James Jones, From Here to Eternity captures life in a Hawaiian US Military Base prior to the impending Pearl Harbour attack. The confusing plot revolves around two ‘love’ stories. The first between Private Prewitt (played by Robert Lonsdale), a new recruit to the regiment and Lorene (played by Siubhan Harrison), an escort club girl. The second between the platoon’s Sergeant Warden (played by Darius Campbell) and his commanding officer’s wife Karen (played by Rebecca Thornhill).
I think this show had promise. I enjoyed some of the score, the songs ‘Fight the Fight’, ‘Run Along Joe’ and ‘Love Me Forever Today’ being notable highlights. The finale was spot on and almost had me in tears. However, other unmemorable songs seemed almost contradictory and wholly unnecessary to the plot.
The main problem was the direction, the entire show had been brought to life on stage in a most awkward manner. The choice to have almost ‘mash-up’ scenes throughout was poor; when you’re supposed to be seeing a couple having an idyllic time on a beach, bringing the whole of G Company and their beds to the front of the stage is not a good idea. This mash-up phenomenon was made more confusing by the set. I don’t understand how a swing chair, with a lighting rig, in front of a stage size cloth covered in giant birds is supposed to depict someone’s place of residence. It’s even more confusing when this chair and its lights fly into another scene, in another location, without its bird cloth … Other choices such as having a character using a hip flask to mimic a harmonica then suddenly turn back into a hip flask were simply unnecessary and embarrassing. I also found the pacing of the plot a little odd. Without spoiling anything, at one point Prewitt gets ‘injured’ (a point of fast paced action) and consoled by Lorene … whilst they remain on stage the other couple is brought in to sing a slow ballad and Prewitt’s injury is practically forgotten.
Although the cast was perfectly adequate, they weren’t outstanding. I enjoyed Siubhan Harrison’s performance the most, she has a great voice. Darius Campbell gave much better vocals than I’d anticipated but his acting was extremely wooden … a shame. The large ensemble was perhaps the best thing about the production. The male cast members performed some incredibly intricate fight scenes, but I felt that the constant use of military style choreography was wearing a bit thin by the end of act two. The female ensemble wasn’t used a great deal but when on stage executed some great choreography and produced some nice harmonies.
Overall, an interesting afternoon at the theatre.