Review Roundup: FROM HERE TO ETERNITY Opens in the West End- UPDATED!
Tim Rice's From Here to Eternity began previews at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 30 September, starring Darius Campbell (Chicago, West End) as Warden, Siubhan Harrison (Grease, West End) as Lorene, Robert Lonsdale (Anna Christie, Donmar Warehouse) as Prewitt, Ryan Sampson (Open Court, Royal Court) as Maggio and Rebecca Thornhill (South Pacific, UK tour) as Karen.
Pearl Harbor,1941, where the girls sing "don'cha like Hawaii", the men of G Company sing the blues, and where even on an army base, love and desire are never very far away. When the troubled Private Prewitt falls for the kind hearted escort club girl Lorene, and when his platoon sergeant, Warden, embarks on a dangerous affair with his commanding officer's wife, Karen, the lives of both men are set on a course they cannot control. As war approaches, the worlds of the four lovers and the soldiers of G Company are dramatically ripped apart.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Carrie Dunn, BroadwayWorld: I can't guarantee a long run for 'From Here ToEternity', but I hope it proves a hit with theatregoers...Robert Lonsdale takes the role of Private Robert E Lee Prewitt, and it's one that should guarantee him musical theatre leads for years to come. Not always necessarily likeable, this proud, stubborn career soldier refuses to obey the whims of his superior officers and chooses instead to live by his own principles. Lonsdale sings beautifully, and even looks like a convincing welterweight boxer - no easy task...The show is staged serviceably by director Tamara Harvey, who seems to have struggled in places with the sheer number of people in her cast that need to be fitted on to stage; I would have also liked a slightly more even hand with the tone, which has a tendency to wobble from melodrama to slapstick.
Michael Billington, The Guardian: "Highly professional". Those are the words that come to mind watching this new musical...But, for all the dedication of the creative team...one is left asking two questions: why now, and what does music add to the story?...The show, however, is executed with considerable skill. Brayson's score encompasses a variety of styles including military chorales, Hawaiian hula routines and bluesy solos. I just wish the music had a little more room to breathe...Tamara Harvey's production and Soutra Gilmour's design make ingenious use of the stage space by suggesting that the action unfolds against a series of receding, dilapidated proscenium arches. Javier de Frutos's inventive choreography turns military drill into muscular dance routines and captures the sleazy sensuality of the aptly named New Congress Club. And I have no fault to find with the performers: Robert Lonsdale as the doggedly withdrawn Prewitt, Ryan Sampson as the breezily opportunist Maggio, Darius Campbell as Warden and Rebecca Thornhill as the captain's wife.
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph: ...the show's USP is clearly that it's fleshing out the story with song and dance and I have to say I don't think that Rice, who supplies lyrics, and his team - Stuart Brayson (music) and Bill Oakes (book) - have done a bad job...The Second World War context seems a bit of an afterthought, but the score is retro-flavoured, imbued with blues, swing and big band influences, without feeling derivative or tame. If I came away only humming a few numbers, there were none I sat through on sufferance...Handsome, sweet-voiced Robert Lonsdale shines brightest in the Montgomery Clift role of Prewitt, refusing to knuckle down and pick up his boxing gloves despite the authorities' vicious bullying, but all the leading players perform with aplomb...This isn't a major musical to rival South Pacific but in a West End awash with shows for kids and kidults it dares to speak to our inner grown-up about frustrated yearning, fleeting romance and pluck.
Paul Taylor, The Independent: The aim is a grittier, sexier low-down on life in the US army and the show...certainly gives you a powerful sense of men, thrown by poverty into this substitute family, and the nervous energies that are barely held in check by the furious military drilling in Javier de Frutos's testosterone-fuelled choreography...Tamara Harvey's production is strong on atmosphere - with its dissolving painted postcards of Hawaii and its crashing waves projected at the back of Soutra Gilmour's design of receding ruined arches. And Brayson's catchy score, which moves deftly through swing, blues, jazz and early rock'n'roll can rise to good old showbiz brassiness when needed...For all the show's many defects, though, you come away impressed by its seriousness of purpose, by individual performances (Ryan Sampson is excellent as the jesting, bullied-to-death Maggio) and by the heart-tugging ambivalence of its patriotic set-pieces.
Quentin Letts, The Daily Mail: This one is a hoot, not necessarily by intention. It contains soupy tunes, glistening biceps, reality star Darius Campbell and his jawline, and generally more corn than even the leading breakfast cereal brands...Director Tamara Harvey gives everything maximum wallop. Cliches abound, from the smoulderin'-loner scene in the Army dorm' when a new guy arrives, to the inevitable assault course when NCOs try to break rebel Prewitt...Mr Campbell does some worthy old-fashioned crooning - in a pleasant song called Marking Time there are moments when he actually sounds like Nat King Cole. Mr Lonsdale is a more surprising stage presence, having a measure of unpredictability...From Here To Eternity is harmless nonsense. It might even become a camp classic. At a stretch.