Flashback to late 1940s Hollywood: Former film starlet Norma Desmond is leading a solitary life in her dated mansion on Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard. A silver screen legend during the famed silent movie era, Norma finds herself out of work, isolated and desperate to regain her former glory. After a chance meeting, Norma befriends downtrodden screenwriter Joe Gillis, who soon makes promises to help Norma edit and promote a script that she believes will make her famous once more. The working partnership takes a dark turn, however, as Norma’s obsession and desire for Joe take over and her grip on reality grows ever more tenuous. Will Joe make it out of her controlling clutches alive?
A thrilling tale of love, lust and betrayal in Tinseltown, the musical Sunset Boulevard is based on the movie of the same name which debuted in 1950. Thousands of miles from Southern California, the musical adaptation traces its roots to London, where Andrew Lloyd Webber began working on the idea in the 1970s, although the finalized product did not become a reality until the early ‘90s. With the book and lyrics courtesy of revered British producers Don Black and Christopher Hampton, Sunset Boulevard made its debut on the West End stage in the summer of 1993 to mostly positive reviews. Crossing the Atlantic, the production arrived first in Los Angeles before opening on Broadway in November 1994. The production starred Hollywood powerhouse Glenn Close in the lead role of Norma Desmond, with Alan Campbell stepping into Joe Gillis’ shoes and Alice Ripley tackling the role of Betty Schaefer. The production was lauded by critics, with Close earning particular praise which led to a Tony Award win for Best Actress.
After closing on Broadway several successful tours ensued, and earlier this year the show returned to its West End roots courtesy of the English National Opera, with Glenn Close once again playing the demented Norma Desmond. The show was met with critical acclaim and is set to return to 42nd Street for a limited run next year, beginning Feb. 2, 2017.
Cast and Crew Introduction
Although the cast list for the Broadway revival of Sunset Boulevard has yet to be released, one thing is certain: Glenn Close will be playing Norma Desmond once more. She will no doubt a cast of other talented performers.
Close has enjoyed an extensive and highly successful career on both screen and stage. She first earned critical attention – and a couple of Academy Award nominations – in the 1980s for her turns in popular movies such as Fatal Attraction, The World According to Garp, Hamlet and Dangerous Liaisons. Her silver screen success continued into the ‘90s, and Millennials who grew up during this decade will particularly remember Close’s terrifying turn as the villainous Cruella de Vil in the live action version of 101 Dalmations. Other credits from the ‘90s include Mars Attacks!, Air Force One and the Disney animated movie Tarzan. She also continued to work in the theater during this time, winning Tony Award nods for turns in Death and Maiden, and, of course, Sunset Boulevard.
In recent times Close became best known for her role as cutthroat lawyer Patty Hewes on the captivating legal drama Damages, which concluded in 2012. She has also had guest roles in popular animated sitcoms The Simpsons and Family Guy.
The rest of the cast for the 2017 revival of Sunset Boulevard is to be confirmed.
The Broadway revival of Sunset Boulevard will arrive at New York City’s Palace Theater for a 16-week run, beginning Feb. 2, 2017. The Palace Theater can seat 1,743 guests and is located on 47th & Broadway, Manhattan.
“The night after Imelda Staunton picked up her Olivier award for best actress in a musical in Gypsy, her successor is a rock solid certainty. With such tumultuous reception at the Coliseum, there is no doubt that Glenn Close must win for Sunset Boulevard in which, like Staunton, she plays a deluded and flawed tragic hero of the entertainment business […] That Close is a movie star with a memorable back catalogue playing a silent movie star whose back catalogue has been eclipsed is just the surrealist cherry on her richly iced cake.” – Londonist
“Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood’s knowing critique of the hurt and lies behind the Golden Age veneer, has got some killer lines that have rightly gone down in cinematic history. But this one feels most apt as Glenn Close makes her West End debut, 22 years after she first played Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical on the US stage […] Her first big number, ‘With One Look’, is technically sound – she’s got wide range and great diction – but the reason Close enchants a packed house at the London Coliseum is because she wears her feeling plain across her face. This is no trite, showstopper singalong by numbers, it’s from the heart, and the audience connects with elated whoops and prolonged applause.” – Digital Spy
“Close is terrific, veering from the perfumed petulance of a hyperventilating child to the uncomfortable vulnerability of an ageing seductress. If her upper register is abrasively sharp and some of her notes a tad errant, she makes up for it by diving deep into the character. Xavier’s Joe is a little too smooth at the start but adds colour and shade as he progresses, delivering the title song with just the right edge of florid melodrama. His duet ‘Girl Meets Boy’ with young aspiring screenwriter Betty Schaefer (an excellent Siobhan Dillon) is a late highlight of the show […] But anchoring the production is the Swedish singer/actor Johanson as directorcum-manservant Max von Mayerling, whose impressive vocal range can float like a butterfly or hit you below decks.” – Express
“Glenn Close’s West End debut is a triumph. As Norma Desmond, a washed-up film star convinced that she’s still idolised by millions, she’s majestic, tormented and teasingly seductive. Close played the role on Broadway more than 20 years ago, winning a Tony award, and at 69 she remains completely persuasive as this manipulative, demonstrative and sometimes ridiculous diva.” – London Evening Standard
“Close gives a performance that shades and shimmers like one of sequined gowns: grandly majestic, her mouth set in a ferocious resolute little line, then giddy with girlish, gleeful, grotesque excitement. But when the fear takes hold, she’s suddenly needy and manipulative; pulling Xavier down towards her for a kiss, nails almost visibly digging into his back even through her long gloves, there’s no doubt that’s he’s in the grip of a fatal attraction […] But while there’s a wild-eyed creepiness here, it would also be impossible to be remained unmoved by the tragedy of her grand delusions. Close is unafraid to be vulnerable; that carries, even in such a large venue.” – WhatsOnStage