Tag Archives: Carley Stenson

From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity

★★★★

Charing Cross Theatre

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY at the Charing Cross Theatre

★★★★

 

 From Here to Eternity

“This is a finely tuned production that rides on its high values and first-rate performances from all involved”

 

The image that forms in most people’s mind when hearing the title “From Here to Eternity” is of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr’s adulterous, steamy embrace on the shores of the Hawaiian island of Oahu while the waves metaphorically release their foam around the lovers’ entangled limbs. The marketing of Fred Zinnemann’s WWII romance ensured a rave reception, but it strayed somewhat from James Jones’ original fifties novel, on which Tim Rice, Stuart Brayson, Donald Rice and Bill Oakes have more faithfully based their musical.

The film was censored somewhat, resulting in the themes of prostitution, homosexuality and abuse being either underplayed or written out completely. Rice and Oakes’ script thankfully reinstates them, although sometimes it feels like a passing gesture that is reaching out for further exploration. A straight drama would have the space to do this, but the harshness of the story lines is softened by this musical treatment. That’s not necessarily a drawback: Brayson’s exhilarating score, orchestrated by Musical Director Nick Barstow, packs a punch with its mix of military chants, dusky blues and power ballads, occasionally tinged with a Hawaiian twang. It is softer in Act One, but the kid gloves come off after interval and only then does the passion of the piece hit us. If the emotion comes through loud and clear through the singing, however, it falls a little flat during the dialogue.

Brett Smock’s fresh and dynamic staging begins at the end, before rewinding two weeks to lead us day by day to the horrific air strike on Pearl Harbour in December 1941. The days are counted down, like the pages of a calendar torn off by a captive serving time in a prison camp. As we approach the fatal morning when so many lives were needlessly lost, the complex and contradictory emotions of the American soldiers are expressed. “I Love the Army… I Hate the Army” is a leitmotif that more than one character extols.

Private Robert Lee Prewitt (Jonathon Bentley) reports to his new posting at G Company. His commanding officer Captain Holmes (brilliantly played by Alan Turkington) is relying on Prewitt to win the boxing championship, thereby increasing his own chances of promotion. Prewitt however refuses to fight having made a deathbed wish to give up boxing after accidentally blinding a fellow soldier. Holmes’ vengeful bullying extends to his dissatisfied wife, Karen (a cool and calculating Carley Stenson) who seeks solace by embarking on an affair with First Sergeant Milt Warden (Adam Rhys-Charles). Into the fold falls Private Angelo Maggio (Jonny Amies), a hot-headed New York Italian who moonlights as a paid companion to the local male community. Meanwhile Prewitt falls for the beautiful prostitute Lorene (Desmonda Cathabel) and dreams in vain of making a respectable woman of her. A highlight of the production is Eve Polycarpou’s Mrs Kipfer, the brothel’s hard-nosed ‘Madam’. Polycarpou certainly establishes her presence from the moment she steps onstage singing the showstopping “I Know What You Came For”.

Unencumbered by high emotion the storylines progress and overlap each other clearly and intelligibly. Cressida Carré’s choreography is dazzlingly crisp and inventive which the strong ensemble cast synchronize to perfection, not missing a beat from scene, to transition, to scene. Against Stewart J. Charlesworth’s concrete set, it is Adam King’s evocative lighting that truly transports us to the steamy and sultry tropical location.

This is a finely tuned production that rides on its high values and first-rate performances from all involved. The subject matter is reduced to more of an undertow, but the score washes over us in waves of delight. That’s no metaphor – none is needed here to ensure the rave reception this show will undoubtedly receive.

 

Reviewed on 8th November 2022

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Mark Senior

 

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

 

Pippin | ★★★★ | July 2021
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike | ★★★ | November 2021
Ride | ★★★★★ | August 2022
The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore | ★★★ | October 2022

 

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NOW IN ITS RECORD BREAKING 33rd YEAR

CAMERON MACKINTOSH

ANNOUNCES MAJOR CAST CHANGES FOR

THE WEST END PRODUCTION OF

 

“LES MISÉRABLES”

 

AT THE QUEEN’S THEATRE

FROM MONDAY 12 JUNE 2017:

 

KILLIAN DONNELLY WILL STAR AS ‘JEAN VALJEAN’

CARLEY STENSON AS ‘FANTINE’

AND

HAYDEN TEE RETURNS AS ‘JAVERT’

 

Cameron Mackintosh is delighted to announce that Killian Donnelly will star as ‘Jean Valjean’. He joins “Les Misérables” fresh from Broadway where he is currently playing the lead role of ‘Charlie Price’ in “Kinky Boots”. West End leading lady and former Hollyoaks star Carley Stenson, will join the company as ‘Fantine’ and Hayden Tee returns to play ‘Javert’ from 17 July having performed the role at The Queen’s Theatre until 22 April this year.

Also joining the company are Steven Meo as ‘Thénardier’; Karis Jack as ‘Eponine’, Jacqueline Tate as ‘Madame Thénardier’ and Hyoie O’Grady as ‘Enjolras’. Paul Wilkins will continue in the role of ‘Marius’ and Charlotte Kennedy will continue in the role of ‘Cosette’ having both originally joined the company in 2015.

From 17 July 2017 the full company will be: Emma Barr; Adam Bayjou; Oliver Brenin; Ciarán Bowling; Hugo Chiarella; Andy Conaghan; Killian Donnelly; Alice Ellen Wright; Sophie-May Feek; Hyoie O’Grady; Catherine Hannay; Antony Hansen; Holly-Anne Hull; James Hume; Karis Jack; Ciaran Joyce; Charlotte Kennedy; Katie Kerr; Rebecca Lafferty; Jo Loxton; John Lumsden; Anna McGarahan; Steven Meo; Jonny Purchase; Lauren Soley; Carley Stenson; Jacqueline Tate; Shaq Taylor; George Tebbutt; Hayden Tee; Lee Van Geleen; Danny Whitehead and Paul Wilkins.

Killian Donnelly is currently playing the role of ‘Charlie Price’ in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway, a role he originated at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End in 2015, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award. His other theatre credits include: ‘Jackie Day’ in “Donegal”, a new play by Frank McGuinness, at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and ‘Huey’ in the original London cast of “Memphis” at the Shaftesbury Theatre for which he was also nominated for an Olivier Award. He created the role of ‘Deco’ in “The Commitments” at the Palace Theatre and has also played ‘Tony’ in “Billy Elliot” at the Victoria Palace Theatre as well as’ Raoul’ in “The Phantom of the Opera” at Her Majesty’s Theatre. He first joined the company of “Les Misérables” in 2008, going onto play the role of ‘Enjolras’ from 2009 to 2011. In 2010, he played the role of ‘Courfeyrac’ in the “25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables” at The O2 Arena and also played the role of ‘Combeferre’ in the multi-award-winning film of the show, released in 2012.

Carley Stenson’s West End credits include ‘Elle Woods’ in “Legally Blonde”, ‘Princess Fiona’ in “Shrek The Musical” and ‘Lady of the Lake’ in “Spamalot”. Carley also starred as ‘Christine Colgate’ in the tour of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”. She is probably best known for playing the regular role of ‘Steph Cunningham’ in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, for which she was nominated for several awards during her 10 years with the show.

Hayden Tee returns to the West End production of Les Misérables having played the role of ‘Javert’ in the West End from 9 January 2017 to 22 April 2017. He has previously played the role on Broadway and in Dubai. He has also previously played the role of ‘Marius’. His other theatre credits include: “South Pacific”; “Little Women”; “Titanic”; “Cats” and “Into the Woods”.

Steven Meo’s previous theatre credits include “Pride & Prejudice” at The Regents Park Open Air Theatre and on UK tour; “The Taming of the Shrew”, “Boeing Boeing”, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog” all for Theatre Clwyd; “The Distance” for Sheffield Crucible/Orange Tree Theatre and “Flesh and Blood” for Hampstead Theatre and on tour.

Karis Jack’s theatre credits include “The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin” at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East & Belgrade Theatre, Coventry; “Baddies: The Musical” at the Unicorn Theatre’ “Hairspray” at Curve, Leicester and on UK tour; “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Salisbury Playhouse and Mercury Theatre, Colchester; and “Urinetown: The Musical” at the Apollo Theatre and St James Theatre.

Jacqueline Tate’s previous theatre credits include: “Allegro” at the Southwark Playhouse; “Avenue Q” at the Wyndham’s Theatre, Gielgud Theatre and national tour; “South Pacific” at The Barbican Theatre and UK tour; “The Phantom of The Opera” at Her Majesty’s Theatre and “My Fair Lady” and “Evita” on international tour.

Hyoie O’Grady is making his professional and West End debut in “Les Misérables”.

Paul Wilkins has previously played the role of ‘Marius’ in “Les Misérables” in Manila, Singapore and Dubai. He made his West End debut in “Les Misérables” in 2015.

Charlotte Kennedy made her West End debut in “Les Misérables” in 2015. She has also appeared in “Elaine Paige in Concert” at the Royal Albert Hall.

 

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