From Here to Eternity, Tim Rice’s new show in the West End, opened last night after a few weeks of previews. Although we all probably remember the film, the musical is actually more closely is based on the original book by James Jones.
The Story of From Here to Eternity
The Quick Version:
Regular soldier Prewitt has been transferred to the Honolulu Barracks. Due to events in his past he refuses to box for the platoon which puts him under pressure from his commanding officer and the other men. He forms unlikely friendships with a hard-bitten veteran, Sergeant Warden and a street-wise rebel Maggio, and even more unlikely love in the shape of embittered prostitute Alma Lorene. The conflicts and tensions finally come to a head as the warring parties are forced to confront an unprecedented attack against all of them.
The story is set in Hawaii in the days just before Pearl Harbour. America is not yet at war and the GIs are training hard but very uncertain what lies ahead. Of course we know that in a few days their whole world will change but to them it feels like this situation could go on forever. The main romantic element of the story follows two pairs of couples. The older couple are teetering on the edge of an adulterous relationship. The younger pair are unlikely lovers as a young GI falls for a local prostitute.
There is quite a lot of emphasis on the men, their companionship, compassion and cruelty. There are definitely sections and themes you won’t remember from the film. These are young soldiers and the production does not shy away from showing them warts and all. James felt that the film edited out, and even the original version of the book, too much of this aspect of the story and a strand dealing with gay characters has been restored in the musical. Kaylie Jones (James’ daughter) said:
“The film had very little to do with what my dad wrote. It was a sanitised version. I told Tim Rice that if he wanted to do the musical, he had to go back to the original manuscript — and I’m pleased to say he has.”
Penguin has issued an uncensored version of the book to coincide with the opening of the new musical.
So we have two interesting and powerful love stories, a large cast of healthy, attractive young men and more laughs than you might expect. Sounds good so far.
Of course the songs were probably always going to be good, with Tim Rice as lyricist the bar is set high. However what might be a surprise is his new writing partner. Stuart Brayson is Rice’s protégé and untried in the West End. This makes the quality of the music and especially the songs, more of a pleasant surprise. The style is an upbeat mix of big band sound, think Glen Miller, with swing, be-bop and early rock. Throw in some Hawaiian influences and you get the idea. There’s definitely a touch of Elvis in ‘Blue Hawaii’ but with a military swing in some of the numbers.
Watch this playlist to get a flavour of the show and to see what audience have thought of it:
Who Will Like It?
I think it will make a great choice for a theatre break and will appeal to a range of ages. It is definitely a ‘grown-up’ musical with themes of adultery, prostitution and bullying which make it unsuitable for very young audiences. I think it will be popular with couples and also with hen nights. There are a lot of handsome testosterone fuelled males and gorgeously sexy females jumping energetically around the stage, which should prove popular with everyone!
I think the show will do really well and become a well loved part of the West End scene. I hope so because Tim Rice is producing as well and has put a lot of his own money into it. It is great to see a new, original musical in the West End. All in all I think From Here to Eternity will be a great choice for theatre breaks.
From Here to Eternity Theatre Breaks Are Now Available to Book