Production History

2013 West End

Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Stuart Brayson
Book by Bill Oakes

© Dewynters.

A Novel Idea For A Musical

From Here To Eternity is the first collaboration between Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson. The musical is an adaptation of the 1951 novel of the same name by author James Jones (1921-1977), chronicling the lives of American soldiers stationed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu at Schofield Barracks in G Company around the time of the Japanese attack on the nearby Pearl Harbour base.

Although only James Jone's first work to be published, From Here To Eternity received the National Book Award for fiction in 1952. He would go on to write two more epics about World War II: Some Came Running (1957) and Whistle (1978). All three books were in part based upon his own experiences in the Army at the time. It was his witnessing of the attack on Pearl Harbour while actually stationed at Schofield Barracks which lends such authenticity to the events described within the pages of From Here To Eternity.

Original Cover, 1951
The success of From Here To Eternity was also apparent in its nearly instantaneous adaptation for the silver screen in 1953. The film won eight Academy Awards -- including the Academy Award for Best Picture along with a New York Critic's trophy. Directed by Fred Zinnemann, the film starred Montgomery Clift (Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt), Burt Lancaster (First Sergeant Milton Warden), Deborah Kerr (Karen Holmes), Donna Reed (Alma 'Lorene' Burke), Philip Ober (Captain Dana "Dynamite" Holmes), Frank Sinatra (Private Angelo Maggio) and Ernest Borgnine (Staff Sergeant James R. "Fatso" Judson) as well as featuring James Jones himself in an uncredited role. The classic film of From Here To Eternity is best remembered for its iconic image of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr locked in an embrace upon the sandy beach amidst the crashing Hawaiian surf.

Further adaptations of the novel have included a six-hour miniseries for the American NBC television network in 1979 with a cast including Steve Railsback (Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt), Natalie Wood (Karen Holmes), Kim Basinger (Lorene Rogers), William Devane (Sargent Milt Warden), Roy Thinnes (Captain Dana Holmes), Joe Pantoliano (Private Angelo Maggio) & Peter Boyle (Fatso Judson) and a a thirteen episode television series a year later in 1980 featuring Don Johnson (Jefferson "Jeff" Davis Prewitt), Barbara Hershey (Karen Holmes), Kim Basinger (Lorene Rogers), William Devane (Master Sargent Milt Warden) & Roy Thinnes (Major Dana Holmes).
The Complete
Uncensored Ed., 2012

Sixty years after its first publication, a new edition of From Here To Eternity -- described as the "completely restored, unexpurgated version" -- was released by arrangement with James Jones' estate which restored not only words and lines cut from the original but also entire scenes which had been removed by the publisher over the strenuous objection of the author. Jones strongly believed that the American people should be exposed to a true, unadulterated depiction of life within the military -- including the habitual use of expletives and the preeminent focus on sexual activity (both heterosexual and homosexual). The release of the novel in its intended form was championed by Jones' daughter Kaylie Jones, and the text itself was compiled by George Hendrick from previously unpublished material found within the original manuscripts which had been marked up by the publisher and then reply-commented on by James Jones himself. This un-expurgated edition was first published as an e-book by Open Road Integrated Media on 10 May 2011 as From Here To Eternity : The Restored Edition. It was later released in print in a softcover edition on 16 October 2012 by Dial Press under the title From Here To Eternity : The Complete Uncensored Edition.

Ranked at 62 on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list complied by Random House, From Here To Eternity continues to be considered a literary classic.

The Long Road To Eternity

Tim Rice first met Stuart Brayson in the early 1980's when Stuart was writing for his pop band -- aptly named "Pop" -- and approached Tim about lending support for their album, self-confidently presenting Tim with a cassette tape of songs. Tim decided to back Pop, and as a singer and guitarist in the band, Stuart recorded several singles, an album, and toured the country. It was not until roughly a decade later that Tim discovered that Stuart had an interest in musical theatre as well.

Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson never lost touch as Stuart moved beyond Pop and they both pursued various musical and song writing projects. Like Tim, Stuart has written several original musicals as well as contributed songs for television and film. In 1997 he wrote "Wild and Loose" for the film Guru. As a member of the Production Team for Shellhut Entertainment, in 2008 Stuart wrote the theme tune "It's a Brand New Day" for the Thai children's animated television series Sheldon which has been aired in over 45 countries. Among his musicals are The Boy Who Wanted More, a satire on rock and roll excess which priemered at the Buxton Festival of Musicals and then transferred to the Unity Theatre Liverpool, and Mata!, a show based upon the life of the exotic Dutch dancer Mata Hari executed during World War I as a double agent which played at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool.

Unlike the majority of Tim Rice's other projects for which the core idea was his own, the inspiration for From Here To Eternity was Stuart Brayson's. Stuart had been captivated for years since first encountering Jone's story in his youth by the juxtaposition of love stories set against the background of impending war. In 2000, he began focusing on musicalising From Here To Eternity in earnest, and shared a demo recording of songs with Tim. This was good timing indeed as Tim lately had often been lamenting the lack of fresh, new talent on display in the West End, as all of the shows opening were either revivals or written solely by "old codgers" such as himself. Stuart's eye for a good story, soaring ballads and catchy rhythms, as well as his enthusiasm and perseverance, were precisely what Tim felt the theatre was desperately in need of.

Tim Rice was able to secure the rights from James Jones' estate for the From Here To Eternity musical. This process introduced the songwriting pair to Kaylie Jones, the daughter of James Jones. Although a celebrated author in her own right (and a University professor on memoir, literature and fiction writing), she graciously devoted her time and support to the project, reviewing ideas and scripts, and meeting on several occasions with Tim when he crossed the pond to her current hometown of New York City.

During the week of 26 May 2002, it was publicly announced that Tim Rice was collaborating with Stuart Brayson on From Here To Eternity. To test the waters, Tim and Stuart held several workshop productions of Stuart's original concept songs and recorded a demo of Stuart's songs the week of 22 July 2202 at Olympic Studios which could be sent to industry insiders and potential investors who could not attend a workshop. The demo featured the vocal talents of Paul Manuel as Prewitt, Miriam Brown as Lorene, Michael McCarthy as Warden, Kate Harbour as Karen, and Stuart himself as Maggio. Dominic Haslam provided the musical accompaniment on the piano. Tim read a short story synopsis between the numbers. The seventeen demo tracks were: 1. Act One, 2. From Here To Eternity (Opening)- Lorene/Karen, 3. G. Company Blues - Platoon, 4. Living My Life - Prewitt, 5. Don'tcha Like Hawaii? - Karen/Lorene, 6. Treatment / Lorene (Extract) - Prewitt, 7. No Man Alive - Warden, 8. Run Along Joe - Lorene, 9. You And Me Buddy - Prewitt/Maggio, 10. Act Two, 11. Never Knew A Love Like This - Karen/Warden, 12. You Got The Money (We Got The Ass) - Karen/Lorene, 13. My Baby Wore Red - Warden/Prewitt, 14. Our Last Night Of Love - Lorene/Prewitt, 15. Why Don't You Sleep With Me Anymore? - Lorene/Prewitt/Karen/Warden, 16. Thirty Year Man - Prewitt, 17. From Here To Eternity (Finale) - Company. Subsequent workshops were held at the Bridewell Theatre and at The Actors Centre with Dominic Haslam serving as the musical director and Paul Manuel as Prewitt, Miriam Brown as Lorene, Michael McCarthy as Warden, Kate Harbour as Karen, and Dominic Brewer as Maggio.

The workshops served to provided feedback on audience reaction to the musicalisation of the novel as well as the level of interest in the show from the theatre investment community -- an undeniable necessity for any production in this day and age. The try-outs even attracted a viable response from an American film company.

Neither Tim Rice nor Stuart Brayson had a desire to push From Here To Eternity onto the West End stage before the production was ready, and tantamount to that preparedness meant assembling the ideal creative team. Finding the right people was an especially daunting task as the team needed to be truly dedicated to and believe in the show, rather than simply attracted because of Tim's celebrity status. Tim had already committed to serve as a co-producer on From Here To Eternity, but he needed a production partner who could take the lead on the more technical aspects the job required.

In the summer of 2009, Lee Menzies (through his company Lee Menzies, Ltd.) stepped in to fill that empty co-producer role, forming Eternity Productions, Ltd. with Tim Rice. Lee had made a name for himself as a producer dedicated to bringing new works to the stage. In an era when producers craved revivals and other alleged "sure things", his speciality made him perfect for From Here To Eternity. By the first week of August 2009, he was already enthusiastically sounding-out backers.

During this time, Tim Rice happened upon the opportunity to discuss From Here To Eternity with former RSO Records president Bill Oakes. Tim had worked with Bill during the Jesus Christ Superstar years, and Bill had been an associate producer on the 1981 film with songs The Fan for which Tim was the lyricist (and Marvin Hamlisch the composer). (It was through his work at RSO that Bill met, and later married, singer and Mary Magedaline sensation Yvonne Elliman in the early 1970's. The pair divorced in 1980.) Bill had a strong background in film, with a string of production credits for feature films including The Little Rascals (1994, producer), Staying Alive (1983, executive producer), Grease 2 (1982, executive producer), The Fan (1981, associate producer), Times Square (1980, associate producer) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978, associate producer). (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has several Tim Rice tie-ins as among those with cameos in the film are Barbara Dickson, Yvonne Elliman and Robert Stigwood.) Bill won a Grammy Award for his work on Saturday Night Fever in 1977 and served as music supervisor for the 1978 films Moment By Moment and Grease, the latter garnering him an American Music Award. In 1980 he supervised the soundtracks for Fame and the Star War's film The Empire Strikes Back. What Tim knew was that in addition to his impressive film production credits, Bill also puts his talents to use as a writer -- such credits including four episodes in 2002 for television series "", "Life and Soul" for Granada TV, "No Business Like It" for LWT and the film "FAB And My Generation" about the Beatles. Tim thought that Bill was the right person to pen the book for From Here To Eternity, and telephoned him to tell him so.

Bill Oakes' only familiarity with Jones' work had been viewing the 1953 film adaptation. Upon reading the book, he was impressed with the almost poetic character of Jones' writing and the depth and complexity of From Here To Eternity which included enough material for several shows. Bill told Tim Rice that he agreed about the potential for a musical based on the From Here To Eternity novel, feeling that it had many connections with contemporary times, and would be happy to write the show's book.
Program for Dominion Presentation, 2012

Tim Rice joined the creative team for From Here To Eternity in late 2009 when it was agreed that he would write the lyrics for the stage production. Although his fellow co-producer had taken on an additional role, Lee Menzies remained undaunted in his task of seeing that all of the show's needs were met. During the second week of February of 2010, Lee began approaching potential marketing companies as to how they would view the musical's publicity campaign. It was also by February of 2010 that Bill Oakes completed his first draft of the book for the stage production, providing moments for additional songs beyond those musical scenes already contemplated by the demo recording. One of these was the early Act One powerful solo "Another Language" for Karen which was written in the Fall of 2010.

Still missing from the creative team, however, was the talent of a director who would be able to actually bring this collaboration to life. At the end of August of 2010, Lee Menzies began production of a year-long UK tour of Tell Me On A Sunday starring Claire Sweeney. The tour was directed by Tamara Harvey, a relatively unknown director who nonetheless had a long string of London and regional (and even American) credits to her name. Tamara had directed the plays within Roland Emmerich's film Anonymous (2010), the premiere of Alistair McGowan's Timing (2009) and, after the Tell Me On A Sunday tour, would direct Smash! at The Menier Chocolate Factory (2011) and serve as Associate Director of the Bush Theatre (2011). Impressed with her work on Tell Me On A Sunday, Lee suggested Tamara to his From Here To Eternity colleagues. There were, however, two other directors currently being considered for the project. Tamara made the short-list of the top two, and during the week of 7 February 2010, the creative team met with each director one final time before making a definitive decision. The coveted position was awarded to Tamara, who officially signed onto the project during the summer of 2010 and was to assume her duties once her remaining commitments were fulfilled.

At the start of 2011, the considerably enlarged From Here To Eternity team began looking to the West End for a theatre in which to open the show sometime in 2012. Meetings with theatreland's property owners did not produce positive results as -- while certainly good for the owners and the West End itself -- the bad news for From Here To Eternity was that all suitable venues either had healthy open-ended running shows in them or already were booked a year or more in advance. As ludicrous as it sounded, From Here To Eternity simply could not find an appropriate home to enable a 2012 opening.

Consoling themselves with the fact that the added wait meant more time to perfect the show, From Here To Eternity's team soldiered on, finishing off pre-existing projects and keeping an ear to the ground for possible venues.

In the beginning of 2011, a short sampler of songs from From Here To Eternity was recorded so that it could be included with other marketing materials in packages for potential investors.

On 25 January 2012, a workshop development presentation of From Here To Eternity was presented in The Studio at the Dominion Theatre. The cast included Robert Lonsdale as Prewitt, Carly Bawden as Lorene, Ben Richards as Warden, Lara Pulver as Karen, Ryan Sampson as Maggio, Nicolas Colicos as Holmes, Adam Pearce as Galvitch, Adam Vaughan as Bloom, Andy Barke as Clark and John Addison as Anderson.

A Return To Shaftesbury Avenue

In the summer of 2012 it emerged that there were several theatres which would be going dark in 2013. After walk-throughs and negotiations with the owners, it was determined that the best fit for From Here To Eternity would be the Shaftesbury Theatre. It was officially announced on 25 October 2013 that the show would play at the Shaftesbury Theatre in the Fall of 2013 -- with previews to begin on 30 September 2013 and a first night on 23 October 2013.

© 2013 Dewynters

The Shaftesbury Theatre is a truly historically rich setting for From Here To Eternity. Like the suffering yet resilient characters of the piece, the theatre was bombed on two separate occasions during World War II and yet courageously remained open. Of more personal significance to From Here To Eternity's songwriters, the Shaftesbury Theatre is a mere stone's throw away from where it all started for Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson when they used to met to discuss the latest on Stuart's band Pop at Tim's offices which were then located at 196 Shaftesbury Avenue.

On the heels of the announcement regarding From Here To Eternity's Fall of 2013 engagement came the news that David White was to be the show's musical director & orchestrator and that Soutra Gilmour would be the costume designer & set designer. David made his Broadway debut with the New Sadler's Wells Opera as musical director when he was 23 and then became the youngest musical director of a West End show when Cameron Mackintosh selected him for Les Miserable. Since that time he has worked on shows internationally as a musical director, musical supervisor, orchestrator and arranger. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music where he teaches a musical theatre course, and is also a guest conductor for The Lion King. Soutra, who was recommended for the show by director Tamara Harvey, has worked on over 25 operas and 60 theatre productions, including the Olivier-winning Regent's Park Open Air Theatre production of Into The Woods (2010) and the sell-out British professional premiere of Tennessee Williams' Something Cloudy, Something Clear (2003 - dir. Tamara Harvey). A month after it was announced Soutra was to work on From Here To Eternity, she was awarded Best Design for her work on "Inadmissible Evidence" at the Donmar Warehouse and "Antigone" at the National's Olivier at the 58th annual Evening Standard Theatre Awards on 25 November 2012.

Rounding out the production team for From Here To Eternity are choreographer Javier De Frutos, lighting designer Bruno Poet and sound designer Mick Potter. Javier De Frutos has done work for the stage, film and television. His work has been performed internationally (including by his own dance company est. 1994), and in Britain his work has included the West End revival of Cabaret for which he received an Olivier Award. Bruno Poet has worked extensively with Britain's publicly funded theatre companies, including lighting Frankenstein at the National for which he won an Olivier Award). He has worked both in the U.K. and abroad in both theatre and opera, with credits spanning several continents. Mick Potter is a veteran sound designer of well-known "big" musicals in the West End and abroad. Previous Tim Rice shows he has lit include The Likes Of Us (Sydmonton Festival), Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2nd West End Revival), ALW's New Production Of The Wizard Of Oz (West End, Toronto).

Tickets to From Here To Eternity went on sale to the general public on 5 April 2013, with a special pre-sale to internet fans starting the day before.

First Songs Released & Casting

Two songs from From Here To Eternity were recorded and released prior to the show's opening. They were "Fight The Fight" by Michael Ball and "Another Language" by Clare Teal.

Jazz singer Clare Teal, known not only for her frequent UK tours but also for her weekly BBC Radio 2 show devoted to big band music, included "Another Language" on her And So It Goes album released 15 April 2013. The song received its first airplay 5 April 2013 on BBC Radio 2's Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman, on which Tim Rice also appeared, speaking to Claudia about From Here To Eternity.

West End performer Michael Ball had approached Tim Rice asking if he had any new material available which Michael might use for a new album he was putting together. Tim invited him to listen to the current From Here To Eternity demos to see if any of those songs interested him. Michael chose "Fight The Fight", and the song was included on his Both Sides Now album released in the UK on 25 February 2013.
Robert Lonsdale at West End LIVE

On 23 May 2013 it was announced that From Here To Eternity was to take part in West End LIVE, an annual free outdoor concert event in Trafalgar Square celebrating London's entertainment scene (with a focus on theatre) presented by the Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre in association with MasterCard. From Here To Eternity was one of the approximately 30 West End shows which gave live performances, another of which also featured Tim Rice's lyrics: The Lion King. West End LIVE spanned the weekend, taking place between 11.00 - 18.00 Saturday, 22 June 2013 and 12.00 - 18.00 Sunday, 23 June 2013.

At the West End LIVE performance, it was announced that Robert Lonsdale had been cast in the lead role of Robert E. Lee Prewitt. Introduced by Tim Rice, and with musical accompaniment by Tom Deering, he performed "Fight The Fight" (accompanying himself for the first half of the song on guitar) for the crowd which was toughing out Saturday's mid-day rain.

On 1 July 2013 a major announcement was made regarding casting of the remaining leads and the entire ensemble. It was revealed that Siubhan Harrison had been cast as Lorene, Prewitt's love interest. The leading players in the show's other main couple would be Darius Campbell as Milt Warden and Rebecca Thornhill as Karen Holmes.

Robert Lonsdale (Robert E. Lee Prewitt) has a background strong in television and straight drama. He has appeared on television screens in special production as well as the obligatory "EastEnders" and "Coronation Street". Robert appeared in the 2012 production of La Bete in both the West End and on Broadway. His most recent stage role has been as Luke 1 (i.e., present-day Luke) in the Royal Exchange and Live Theatre, Newcastle's production of "Brilliant Adventures" over the summer of 2013. Having just finished working on the film "Walking With The Enemy" (in post-production / to be released in 2013) set during World War II, Robert is already familiar with the time period of 'From Here To Eternity". He is also already familiar with Prewitt, having played the role in the 25 January 2012 workshop production.
Shaftesbury Theatre On Opening Night
© 2013 JJB Web Design

Siubhan Harrison (Lorene) has career which runs the full gambit of an actress' genres. She has appeared in films Little Deaths, The Man Who Met Himself and Well Prepared, in commercials for Vodafone 360 and Thomson Holidays, performed in concert in "Up & Away: The Songs Of James Michalos", on television in the BBC's The Song Of Lunch, and has performed in the West End and regionally in several plays and a host of musicals including Bad Girls The Musical, Grease, Les Miserables, Marguerite and Tommy.

Darius Campbell (Milt Warden), f.k.a. Darius Danesh, is a singer/songwriter who, after finishing 3rd in the 2001 edition of Pop Idol, went on to score four top ten hits from his debut platinum selling 2002 album and garned his 5th top ten hit from the title track of his second album in 2004. He showed his diversity (and talent) when he appeared in Popstar To Operastar in early 2010, winning the television competition and then going on to perform in Carmen at the O2 Arena that May. Darius' casting in From Here To Eternity is a perfect fit as not only has he tread the boards in musicals before (Chicago, Gone With Wind), but in 2010 he starred in The History Of The Big Bands Tour dedicated to the music of the Big Band and Swing Era.

Rebecca Thornhill (Karen Holmes), whose theatrical aspirations began while studying dancing as a school girl, has performed in the West End, regionally, in Edinburgh, America, Denmark, Greece, Sweden and Zimbabwe and has played leading roles in classic and modern musicals alike such as Annie Get Your Gun, Chicago, Oklahoma!, Les Miserables, Me And My Girl, Singin' In The Rain, South Pacific and Witches Of Eastwick to name just a few. (Trivia: Rebecca originated the role of Babette in the West End production of Beauty And The Beast.)

The rest of the From Here To Eternity company includes Keisha Amponsa Banson, Marc Antolin, Julie Armstrong, James Ballanger, John Brannoch, Abigail Climer, Brian Doherty, Jessia Ellen, Dale Evans, Shimi Goodman, Kirby Hughes, Lauren Ingram, Dean John-Wilson, Joshua Lacey, Carolyn Maitland, Nuno Queimado, Ryan Sampson, Lucinda Shaw, Warren Sollars, David Stoller, Rebecca Sutherland, Laura Tyrer, Lauren Varnham, Adam Vaughan, Stephen Webb and Matthew Wesley.

West End ... And Cinema

Rehearsals for From Here To Eternity began on 12 August 2013. Prior to this first full-company meet and greet, there had been some small group work, including a "boot camp" military introduction training session for the G Company soldiers. A run-through of Act One was conducted during the fourth week of rehearsals. After five weeks at Three Mills, the company moved into the Shaftesbury Theatre for the final days of rehearsals and tech. On 23 September, a sitzprobe run-through of the show was performed for the first time with both the cast and the full orchestra.
Darius Campbell, Sir Tim Rice, Siubhan Harrison & Robert Lonsdale           Stuart Brayson, Tamara Harvey & Bill Oakes           
First Night After Party    © 2013 JJB Web Design
From Here To Eternity began previews on 30 September 2013 at the Shaftesbury Theatre and officially opened on 23 October 2013.

From Here To Eternity closed on 29 March 2014. During the show's final weeks, changes were put into the script in anticipation of the production being filmed. Omniverse Vision filmed From Here To Eternity for international broadcast and eventual home release.

From Here To Eternity was nominated for four What's On Stage Awards: Best New Musical, Best Actor for Robert Lonsdale, Best Supporting Actor for Ryan Sampson, Best Choreographer for Javier de Frutos. "From Here to Eternity: The Musical" was also voted #17 in What's On Stage's "top 100 Musicals Of All Time" audience poll, the results of which were announced on 6 May 2014.

The film of From Here To Eternity was shown at 250 CineStage theatres across the UK on 3 July 2014 to coincide with the anniversary of the original motion picture's Oscar wins.

The film of From Here To Eternity will be shown in the United States by Fathom Events on 2, 5 and 9 October 2014.

The soundtrack to the film was first available for digital download in the UK on 3 July 2014 when the film debuted in cinemas. A double CD edition of the soundtrack became available for purchase in the UK on 4 August 2014 and as an import in the US on 5 August 2014.

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