Just before Chrimbo, Red and I popped off to see From Here to Eternity at the Shaftesbury Theatre. I saw the film ages ago. SO long ago I could barely remember the plot, but I did remember Frank Sinatra looking dashing. So, with that in mind I was excited to see what the clever Sir Tim Rice had come up with in his stage adaption.
The story is set in Hawaii and follows the troops at Schofield Army Barracks in Honolulu during the languid days before the attack on Pearl Harbour. The 1953 film received 8 Academy awards and some of its scenes are still considered some of the most iconic in history – remember Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr writhing in the ocean as the waves crashed over them? You see – big shoes to fill.
First and foremost, the show looks gorgeous. It’s big and sparkling and there are huge ensemble numbers with the highest of high kicks, spins, twirly girlies, backflips, bed jumping (yep) and scary lifts amidst the AMAZING choreography (well done Javier de Frutos), which for me was the thing that stood out for me the most. It made me want to don my dancing shoes and jump on stage with the cast. (They would not have best pleased. So I didn’t.)
Early on in the show, a very tall and strapping man strolled on stage and I whipped round to Red with my eyes wide like saucers – “IS THAT DARIUS?!” I whispered in that weird hissy whispery way when you can’t be loud but you need to be heard.
“Uh huh” (Red’s cool)
Darius (First Sergeant Warden) was great! He sang and danced and totally held his own. I was impressed. I was impressed by Darius Campbell. Yip. He also managed to carry off the line “I want to go to bed with you” without a snigger and before we knew it Rebecca Thornhill was lying in her smalls, inviting him to ravish her on the kitchen table. Good work, Darius.
My favourite cast member was Ryan Sampson (Private Angelo Maggio) who was so dynamic and animated, that the show appeared to be driven along by his energy and charisma. His rendition of ‘I Love the Army’ was amazers and was definitely a goose bumpy moment for me. Joshua Lacey (Private Isaac Bloom) was also fantastic and gave it everything he had.
This show manages to feel enormous and intimate simultaneously. The cast give it their all and although the story is essentially very simple, the beautiful sets, cast and choreography make it a twinkly and dazzling musical to watch.
I didn’t come away singing any of the songs, but I did come away with an emotional tug in my tummy. Tim Rice’s depiction of love and loss during a turbulent war was a stark reminder of how fragile we all are. How everything can change in an instant. And how very lucky I am.