Digital Presentation of Tim Rice Musical From Here to Eternity in Cineplexes October 2, 5, and 9
By: Ellis Nassour
Tim Rice’s recent West End musical From Here to Eternity will be screened October 2, 5, and 9 in 400 select U.S. cinemas [including three in Manhattan]. It was beautifully captured over two evening performances this Spring from the stage of London’s Shaftesbury Theatre by nine cameras by Omniverse Vision. It’s a spectacular front row seat presentation by Fathom Events’ Digital Broadcast Network.
The musical, adapted from James Jones’ 1951 WW2 classic and mega best-selling novel, features lyrics by Rice, a score by singer and rock ‘n roll guitarist Stuart Brayson [who stalked Rice, eventually giving him a cassette of songs he’d written], and book by Bill Oakes. It’s currently being retooled and rethought for the 2015-2016 Broadway season.
"I am delighted that our ambitious musical version of this magnificent story is going to be available to cinemas across the U.S.," says Tim Rice. "We believe it’s an epic tale with a score to match, so it’s fantastic that our version will get a big screen release. I’d seen Omniverse Vision’s work and hand-picked them for this [Rice is also a co-producer of the musical]. When I saw the results, I was awed. It’s up close and personal and spectacular."
The digital screenings will feature 20 minutes of behind-the-scenes and making-of footage. New York City screenings will be at AMC Empire 25 [234 West 42nd Street], Regal Union Square Stadium 14 [Broadway and 13th Street] and AMC Loews Kips Bay 15 [570 Second Avenue, between 31st and 32nd Streets] are Thursday, October 2 at 7 P.M., Sunday, October 5 at 12:55 P.M., and Thursday, October 9 at 7 P.M.
Seating is general admission. Tickets are $18 at the Empire and Kips Bay, $15 for seniors; and $18 at the Union Square. Purchase at cineplex box offices and Fandango. Running time with brief intermission is two hours and 35 minutes. This is explicit adult entertainment.
Queens theatres: College Point Multiplex [$19], Westbury Stadium 12 [$18].
The musical stars Scottish Platinum-selling recording artist, stage actor, opera baritone, and songwriter Darius Campbell as Sgt. Milt Warden TV, film, and cabaret artist Rebecca Thornhill as Karen, TV/film actor Robert Lonsdale as Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt [in the breakout role of his career]; noted TV and stage star Ryan Sampson as Maggio; and pop singer/TV performer Siubhan Harrison as "dance hall hostess" Lorene.
From Here to Eternity was Tamara Harvey’s debut as director; with choreography by Javier De Frutos, orchestrations by David White, set and costume design by Soutra Gilmour, lighting design by Bruno Poet, and sound design by Mick Potter.
The show opened on the West End in late October 2013 as Tim Rice’s From Here to Eternity, and ran six and a half months. The show had a rocky preview period, with some audience members so shocked by some nude sequences and blatant profanity that there were walk-outs.
Rice has certainly had his share of groundbreaking musicals: Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Chess. "The From Here to Eternity structure is a return to older formula," he explains. "However, a new voice and dynamic staging can make an old story fresh, even innovative. For those who question our musical being based on a classic novel, I can only point out that many great musicals have been based on something else — Carousel/Liliom Oklahoma!/Green Grow the Lilacs, My Fair Lady/ Pygmalion, West Side Story/Romeo and Juliet. "They may not improve on the original, but why should they. They stand as separate, unique entities."
From Here to Eternity takes place in 1941 in Hawaii, immediately prior to the attacks on Pearl Harbor and grippingly chronicles the rigors of Army life in barracks and on leave in the dives and brothels of downtown Honolulu, not to mention torrid wartime affairs that seem doomed from the start.
Having recently transferred to the base, troubled Private Prewitt (Lonsdale), a champion welterweight who now refuses to fight [because of blinding an opponent] and a fine bugler[who now refuses to bugle], is singled out for "the treatment" [brutal bullying, solitary, and tortuous duty] in an effort to break him to get him to not only box but also bugle. His best friend is hotheaded Maggio (Sampson), short on statue but big on bravado, a quality which ultimately leads to brutal punishment by the stockade commander of the guard. Prewitt falls for Lorene (Harrison), the kind-hearted escort at the New Congress Club. His gung-ho solid-soldier platoon sergeant, Milt Warden (Campbell) embarks on a dangerous and torrid affair with his commanding officer’s estranged wife, Karen (Thornhill), setting the lives of both men on an out-of-control course, made worse as Pearl Harbor is attacked and war approaches.
Act One is a bit labored and overlong as characters are introduced and plot lines are set in place. Act Two, with more than its share of showstoppers, is almost pitch perfect: powerful, poignant, with unforgettably memorable performances from Lonsdale and the amazing Sampson – so unforgettably memorable, in fact, they overshadow the leads.
The score of nearly 20 tunes and reprises includes: the title song, "G Company Blues," "Fight the Fight," "More Than America," "I Love the Army," "Thirty Year Man," "Ain’t Where I Wanna Be Blues," "Another Language," "Love me Forever Today," "Almost Perfect Lie," and "Don’cha Like Hawaii? A cast recording was released in August.
Throughout, Rice accurately captures the spirit and girt of the time in American history in his lyrics. Brayson’s score runs the gamut from ballads, swing, blues, jazz, military drill, and country to echoes of early rock ‘n roll.
Jones’ title is inspired by the Kipling poem Gentlemen-Rankers, in particular the line "damned from here to eternity."He portrayed military life with the courage, violence, savagery, and passions of men and women who live by strict codes. His was the most important American novel to come out of WWII.
The digital presentation is directed by Nick Morris (Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert; Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Concert), who takes advantage of cinematic devices, such as fades, close-ups, composites, and the use of a camera on a crane.
To insure accuracy of the era and military, former U.S. Marine Ray Elliott, also the head of the James Jones Literary Society, was hired as a consultant to train ensemble members in the proper use of rifles and how to salute correctly.
"Fathom Events is delighted to give U.S. audiences the first opportunity to experience From Here to Eternity in U.S. cineplexes before it arrives on Broadway," notes Shelly Maxwell, company executive VP. "Musical theater fans are in for an evening they won’t soon forget with what Tim and Stuart have done. It’s quite a moving experience, and this version is very true to Jones’ novel."
Jones, who served in the Army at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese, wasn’t a fan of how his book was published or of the film adaptation. The 50s was a straight-laced era. His manuscript was heavily censored by Scribner books to remove excessive profanity and references to brothels, transvestites, and gay prostitution. The unexpurgated version wasn’t published until 2011. Once it was, Brayson thought it might be adapted as a musical, especially if he could adapt from the original material to tell an even more compelling story. He proposed the project to Rice, who acquired the stage rights. Jones’ daughter Kaylie and son Jamie granted the rights with the stipulation the musical would be based on the uncensored book.
The 1953 film received 13 Oscar nominations, winning for Best Picture; direction, veteran Fred Zinnemann; and adaptation by Daniel Taradash. It starred Burt Lancaster [Warden; Oscar nominee, Best Actor], Deborah Kerr [Karen; Oscar nominee, Best Actress], Montgomery Cliff [Prewitt; Oscar nominee, Best Actor], Donna Reed [Lorene; Oscar, Supporting Actress], Frank Sinatra [Maggio; Oscar, Supporting Actor], and Ernest Borgnine.
For a preview trailer and more information, visit www.FathomEvents.com.