24 July 2020

It wasn’t planned but like all the best unplanned plans it felt like the right time.

A retrospective of the original west end production of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. Perhaps even a reunion. Yes a reunion. But under lockdown? 

I had a few words with a new good friend of mine called Jean-Paul who runs Musical Theatre Radio in Canada. I think he’s my friend. He’s asked me to do three or four interviews on his fab radio programme so that’s always a good sign..

We had discussed a Q and A with a prize attached. Something to raise the morale among the theatre community. OR even an Evening With SB live on the radio, this is my one man band spectacular where I lift the lid on my highs and lows on this uncertain profession called showbiz and chuck in a few songs to boot. I was keen to help Jean-Paul to do something positive as like everyone in theatre land I wanted to do my bit to rally the troops.

He said he’d get back to me.

Enter Simon Greiff. A British producer I’d never met but due to the marvels of zoom within one breezy chat we were off and running. A virtual FHTE reunion. One night only.

You’ll never get them I thought. The cast and creatives of the London show. It’s been awhile and perhaps they don’t still have the same feels for FHTE during a worldwide pandemic. And if they said no who could blame them. Simon seemed confident. 

We left it at that and I got back to work writing songs for my new country album. 

Twenty minutes later we were on. Most of the leads and creative team had said a resounding yes and even Tim Rice was up for it. I was a little shocked. How was this going to work? I’ve never been to a reunion. Not even a school one. Really I never even went that much to school..

A week or so later all the online theatre set ups were running our story. FHTE-ONE NIGHT ONLY. All positive stuff. Reunions might be cool. 

What had intrigued me about this reunion from the get go was that we were actually going to present it on a new platform. A virtual theatre no less. Always up for new things and experiences, this seemed a funky way to spend an evening reminiscing and miles away from the 24 7 COVID 19 blues. Even if we all really wouldn’t leave our living rooms. Hasn’t 2020 been a drag…

The platform called REMO offered the audience and star turns a chance to mingle before the show and a virtual stage for myself and the rest of the company to converse, discuss our memories and for the fans to interact with us with questions during the evening. 

It’s obviously not a theatre but when the chances are most of us all won’t see the inside of one until 2021, it’s the best alternative I’ve seen so far. And it all seemed fitting that From Here To Eternity would be the first to get this virtual ball rolling. It always seemed we were always just a little ahead of the curve. Sometimes to our detriment.

I said I’d sing. We needed music and the bloke who wrote the songs can’t really pull a sickie. 

The night came and after a little dress rehearsal, where to be honest I didn’t have a clue which button meant what and where or how any of this was going to work. We were up and running. Whatever happened it would be something positive I thought and a little money in the kitty for those in need. 

I did have a slight premonition of me sat in a virtual room on a virtual table on my own for an hour and half as my computer skills leave a little to be desired. But with my genius of a nephew at the helm all I was assured would be well.

And it was.

The fans of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY never fail to amaze me. They are devoted and totally loyal to Eternity. A few I know personally some I’ve never met some I’ve yet to meet, but they really do come from all parts of the globe, mostly young and all passionate and a few slightly obsessive about the boys and girls of 41. I cannot thank them all enough for being so incredible. 

I think in truth my main reason for wanting to do a ONE NIGHT ONLY was to thank the fans and the UK ones especially. I know what it’s like to be a fan. And a lot of people who found our show just as it was shuffled out of the west end have been left up in the air only with few brief memories to hold onto over the years since. Why don’t you tour? When are you going to return? FHTE fans have written to me for years now with the same heart felt pleas and I’ve had no answers. When America might have seemed the logical future choice for a major production of FHTE it’s heart belongs in Britain.

And so to the evening..

It was lovely to hear the creative team and cast speak so honestly about their experiences of the London production. I was so moved as they all showed how much the show had truly meant to them. It was a magical short lived west end dream that certainly touched all of our hearts. And now in hindsight what is so wonderful is we can all see and appreciate the good things again. What we set out to do. 

I’ve certainly never seen a company as devoted and hard working as that London production of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

And it was a joy to spend a few hours reminding ourselves perhaps of what we actually all achieved. 

And when the virtual event was over I remembered why I set out to write musicals. It was because of such evenings. A musical brings people together in a way not many other art forms can. Yes being in a rock band was exciting but theatre is engaging. It’s an experience we all share together. The artists and the audience. A big family and a good story.

Thank you Jean-Paul and Simon for allowing us to share our story again..!