Tuesday, 22 October 2013

From Here To Eternity: Theatre Review

Based on the 1951 novel and 1953 film of the same name, From Here To Eternity is the new musical from Tim Rice and it makes its world premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London’s West End. The original film won 8 Academy Awards and starred Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, Montgomery Cliff and Deborah Kerr. The story is really beautiful, emotional and powerful. 
However simple Tamara Harvey’s direction of the show is she has presented a very clear and precise version of the story. Many themes lie within the story, one of them being Homosexuality. This is quite a large part of the story and the theme is very interesting (especially when involving the army in 1941) but I didn’t feel like it was used enough. It was almost skimmed over very quickly and felt a little random when in fact it actually has a very large impact in the show. I would have liked for them to have taken this theme further and go deeper with it because it definitely had the potential to be a really interesting part of the production. 
One thing that was absolutely stunning was the choreography, Javier De Frutos has done an incredible job on this show. The ensemble numbers were by far the best thing about the musical and a lot of the credit must go to him for this. Another stunning aspect of the show was the set design by Soutra Gilmour, what looked like an abandoned building that had been hit by a bomb was brought to life with Bruno Poets lighting design. I must say that some of the scene changes could have been a lot cleaner, the performers seemed to come straight out of character when having to run off straight after their scene and I feel like there could have been a more interesting way to have people move on the pieces of set rather than just carrying them on and walking off in the most neutral way. Choreography could have been used to make this a little more interesting and sharp. 
Tim Rice and Stuart Braysons Music and Lyrics had its good and bad moments, the ensemble and group numbers were some of the best I’ve ever seen however in the solo songs I felt like there was a lack of interest and emotion put into the writing of them. The performers didn’t seem to make any emotional connection to the solo numbers and this didn’t seem to be their fault, more a lack of good lyrics. Some of them didn’t seem to have much meaning, for example I didn’t understand Run Along Joe sung by Lorene. I just didn’t get the link between the song and the show’s events. And Thirty Year Man was nice the first couple of times we heard it, but by the 27th reprise it got a bit old. In saying that Don’cha Like Hawaii, You Got The Money and the act 2 opening were remarkable, they definitely show that Tim Rice certainly still has it! 
Robert Lonsdale plays Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt, his voice isn’t going to be for everyone however I loved it. I’ve heard comments about how he can’t carry the show but I believe he does. Just because he doesn’t belt out the entire show doesn’t mean he isn’t a great leading man. I loved the modern aspects he brought to the show through his vocals but I believe he also handled the character really well in the sense of the journey he has to go through. An interesting interpretation that I think people will either love or hate, I for one loved it! 
Darius Campell is the other leading man in the company, playing First Sargent Milt Warden. I must say I was very underwhelmed by his performance. Even when the character was at his most vulnerable he still felt very cold and stiff, this seemed to carry through the whole production. However his voice really suited the part and it was a really nice contrast between him and Robert Lonsdale. 
Rebecca Thornhill plays Karen Holmes and I liked her, she sang it beautifully and had a great confidence about herself in the role, she played it very with a very strong outer shell but the character was very interesting and you really made a connection with her. Siubhan Harrison plays Lorene in the production and I must say she really suits the part, I wish the character made more of a progression within the story (not her fault, I feel like something could have been added to the script to make the character more interesting). However she sang it wonderfully and her chemistry with Robert Lonsdale on stage was electric at times but still very sweet which was a wonder to watch. 
My concern is that some of the characters who had a huge impact in the story fell in the shadow of others, for example I wanted to see more of Lorene. I felt like a lot of important and basic information about the character and she wasn’t explained well enough. However I loved the progression that Prewitt and Karen made through out the show. 
The ensemble in this show are fantastic, I can’t tell you how impressed I am with them. It would be a crime if you didn’t see this show just for the performance of the ensemble. I would be lying if I said some of them stood out from the rest as they were all top quality and added something very special to the production. The difference between the strict and manly male ensemble and the relaxed and sexy female ensemble created a dream pairing, if there is an award for best ensemble then they have to win. 
This is a bloody good show, yes there are some flaws in it but I would totally recommend seeing this show. Its something different, as far as I know nothing like this has ever been on in the West End. If you’re up for seeing something a little different from the norm then this is the show for you. This beautiful and intense production should be seen by everyone, support new theatre and buy a ticket to see From Here To Eternity! (Lets not let it become From Here To November....). 

Rating: ****

From Here To Eternity currently runs at the Shaftesbury Theatre 

Cast Includes: Christine Allado, Keisha Amponsa Banson, Marc Antolin, Julie Armstrong, James Ballanger, John Brannoch, Darius Campell, Abigail Climer, Brian Doherty, Jessica Ellen, Dale Evans, Shimi Goodman, Siubhan Harrison, Kirby Hughes, Lauren Ingram, Dean John-Wilson, Joshua Lacey, Robert Lonsdale, Carolyn Maitland, Martin Marquez, Yiftach Mizrahi, Nuno Queimado, Ryan Sampson, Lucinda Shaw, Warren Sollars, David Stoller, Rebecca Sutherland, Rebecca Thornhill, Lauren Tyler, Lauren Varnham, Adam Vaughan, Stephen Webb and Matthew Wesley. 

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