From Here to Eternity. Music by Stuart Brayson, Lyrics by Tim Rice, book based on the novel by James Jones by Donald Rice and Bill Oakes. Charing Cross Theatre, The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2 to 17 December 2022. 4****. William Russell.

This revival directed by Brett Smock proves to be a four star production of what is a three star musical substantially reshaped since it first appeared in 2013 when it ran for six months and had a mixed critical reception. It is based on the novel by James Jones about life in the army which had been toned down by his publishers to omit the homosexuality and some of the references to prostitution to meet the mores of the times. The celebrated 1954 film did the same – the prostitute the hero Prewitt falls for, for instance, became a dance hall hostess – and is probably most famous for the love making in the surf scene between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster which here goes for next to nothing. The problem with the book, and indeed the film, was that really everyone is pretty ghastly and hard to care about although the film did have star powet to get over some of that. What this production has is a strong male chorus as the soldiers and some strikingly athletic choreography from Cressida Carre which keeps them virtually in perpetual motion doing press ups and fighting, hefting boxes around and sporting the whitest Y fronts you have ever seen.

The male leads – Jonathon Bentley as Prewitt, the bugler who refuses to box for the squad, and Adam Rhys Charles as Warden, the sergeant having an affair with officer’s wife Karen – sing well, and Eve Polycarpou as Mrs Kipfer, who runs the brothel the soldiers frequent, delivers a magnificently bawdy turn and is the evening’s standout performance. The women fare less well. Jones’s novel was a sensation as it lifted the lid on army life at the time but even with the gay elements and the prostitution restored – arguably more to the fore than in the original musical – it all seems a bit shop worn. The score, a mix of rock, swing and what was fashionable in 2013, is serviceable without ever delivering any memorable songs, and the fact that Pearl Harbour is about to happen looms over it all without ever seeming something to worry about.

It is performed traverse fashion, which means the audience is on two sides of the acting area, and the sound system has been well designed to allow one to hear every word – which is to say the cast are all very loud when speaking and even louder when singing. Smock’s big, brash, noisy production passes the time well enough – it could have seemed like an eternity as the events do rather follow a predictable course, people get beaten up, dumped in solitary confinement, non commissioned officers are sadists, and basically one waits for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour to resolve everything.

Some songs have been dropped, and there is quite a lot of reshuffling of the original running order which all seems to work well but somehow it remains one of those musicals there was no real point in bothering to create -. a case of from here to December rather than an eternity.

Maggio: Jonny Amies.

Prewitt: Jonathon Bentley.

Lorene: Desmonda Cathabel.

Judson/Colonel Delbert: Leonard Cook.

Williams: Kerron Dixon-Bassey.

Swing: Sarah Drake.

Riggs:Dominic Adam Griffin.

Montello: Cassius Hackforth.

Tucker: Robin Hayard.

Clark: Callum Henderson.

Anderson: James Mateo-Salt.

Calovitch: Rhys Nuttall.

Bloom: Jack Ofrecio.

Byrd: Jaden Oshenye.

Mrs Kipfer: Eve Polycarpou.

Warden: Adam Rhys-Charles.#

Karen: Carley Stenson.

Holmes: Alan Turkington./

Ruiz: Joseph Vella.

Director: Brett Smock.

Set & Costume Designer: Stewart J Charlesworth.

Choreographer: Cressida Carre.

Musical Director: Nick Barstow.

Lighting Designer:Adam King.

Sound Designer: Chris Murray.

Fight Director & Intimacy Coach: Renny Krupinski.

Production Photography: Mark Senior.

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