Based on Billy Wilder’s classic Academy Award-winning film
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton
Directed by Lonny Price
Cast: Glenn Close, Michael Xavier, Siobhan Dillon, Fred Johanson, Nancy Anderson, Mackenzie Bell, Preston Truman Boyd, Barry Busby, Britney Coleman, Julian Decker, Anissa Felix, Drew Foster, David Hess, Brittney Johnson, Katie Ladner, Stephanie Martignetti, Lauralyn McClelland, T. Oliver Reid, Lance Roberts, Stephanie Rothenberg, Graham Rowat, Paul Schoeffler, Andy Taylor, Sean Thompson, Matt Wall, Jim Walton
First Performance February 2, 2017
Opening February 9, 2017
Final Performance May 28, extended through June 25, 2017
Submit a review for Sunset Boulevard
In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world. Impoverished screen writer, Joe Gillis, on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her reclusive world. Persuaded to work on Norma’s ‘masterpiece’, a film script that she believes will put her back in front of the cameras, he is seduced by her and her luxurious life-style. Joe becomes entrapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free with dramatic consequences.
The lush, swelling melodies of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s acclaimed score include, “With One Look,” “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” and “Perfect Year.”
Sunset Boulevard originally premiered in London’s West End at the Adelphi Theatre in 1993, where it ran for almost four years and played to nearly two million people. The American premiere was at the Shubert Theatre in Century City, Los Angeles in December 1993 with Glenn Close as Norma. The musical was an instant success and played 369 performances before moving to Broadway in 1994 with, what was then, the biggest advance in Broadway history, at $37.5million.
Ben Brantley – New York Times
Miss Desmond is embodied by Glenn Close, the much-celebrated movie actress who won a Tony in the same part 22 years ago. And what was one of the great stage performances of the 20th century has been reinvented, in terms both larger and more intimate, that may well guarantee its status as one the great stage performances of this century, too.
Marilyn Stasio – Variety
Glenn Close makes a triumphant return to the star role of Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard,” a once-in-a-lifetime role that won her a Tony Award in 1995. Ever an elegant actress, she’s positively regal in the English National Opera production which won her kudos on the West End last year and will play a limited 16-week run at the Palace Theater — a fitting setting for this star.
Jeremy Gerard – Deadline
This company is spectacularly well cast. None of the previous Joes could hold a candle to Michael Xavier, who is in much better shape than we imagine Joe to be, though to be sure, no one complained when he took off his shirt. Unfortunately, he also gets the show’s dopiest song, the title number. As Betty, Siobhan Dillon is sweet before she’s heartbroken, and as Max, Fred Johanson plays against the kitschiness of the part. And while Close is not the singer others have been in the role, that now works more to her advantage; she’s not pushing so hard to win us over. She’s also dropped most of what I recall as her Kabuki-style makeup. She’s a sick and wounded creature with occasional flashes of the egomaniac star who once commanded the adulation of the masses and the obeisance of moguls.
Frank Scheck – The Hollywood Reporter
The song “As If We Never Said Goodbye” takes on touching new resonance in the Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1993 musical Sunset Boulevard, based on the classic Billy Wilder film. This version once again stars Glenn Close in the role that won her a Tony Award 22 years ago, and the veteran actress reprises it magnificently. Playing Norma Desmond, the aging former movie star obsessed with making a comeback, Close delivers a more subtle, nuanced performance well suited to a production dramatically scaled down from the original.
Leah Greenblatt – Entertainment Weekly
Director Lonny Price (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, 110 in the Shade) keeps his set shrewdly minimal, bracketing it in bare scaffolding and winding staircases with a scrim that periodically lowers to show black-and-white projections of vintage Los Angeles filmstock. And nobody puts orchestra-baby in the corner: The 40-piece ensemble is placed firmly at center stage, a semi-screened locus around which the cast spins and weaves.
Joe Dziemianowicz – NY Daily News
Close, meanwhile, goes heavy on the fragility, vulnerability and dark humor for the part played on film by Gloria Swanson. If a few vocals are strained, Close commands the stage in this concert production from the English National Opera.
Jesse Green – Vulture
In any case, the 1994 production was something of a triumph for Close; she was well-reviewed and won the Tony award. It pains me to say that her second outing as Norma is no triumph. Leave aside that she cannot sing the role, if she ever could. Her head voice is now pitchy and hooty; her chest voice raw and unregulated. (It’s also madly overamplified to achieve the effects deemed necessary in the big numbers.) Great acting was meant to compensate, but her new interpretation of Norma — a mite more playful and less otherworldly — actually makes things worse. The climactic final scenes in which she goes completely bonkers seem underprepared, and her insanity thus laughable instead of pitiable. To say that it’s a real Norma Desmond of a performance is not to say it’s good. It’s just big.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
Close gives a bravura performance: funny, over-the-top, ridiculous. The only vulnerability Close brings to the role, however, is her singing voice. The actress was never a great singer, but managed to be adequate by Broadway standards. Here, her vocal production changes with nearly every other note, and the resulting tone and pitch is just as variable.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
Silent film star Norma Desmond learns the hard way that remaining a legend isn’t easy, but in the revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Don Black-Christopher Hampton musical Sunset Boulevard that just opened at the Palace, Glenn Close makes it look effortless. If you didn’t know it had been 22 years since she created the part on this side of the Atlantic, either because you saw her play it then (and win a Tony) or are still kicking yourself for missing it (I fall into the latter category), you’d swear that both she and Norma are frozen in time, a union of theatrical inevitability we’re constantly told doesn’t—and can’t—happen today. But happen it does in this Lonny Price-directed production, so arrestingly and so frequently, that you’ll be transported to a world and psychology that are once terrifying, rapturous, and seemingly impossible.
Adam Feldman – TimeOut NY
If only she could be in every scene! For the rest of Sunset Boulevard, adapted from Billy Wilder’s timeless 1950 film, is mostly a languorous slog. In place of the 1994 version’s ornate set is a 40-piece onstage orchestra, billed as Broadway’s largest in 80 years, as if to say that the real costar is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music. (Conductor Kristen Blodgette takes a bow with the principals at curtain call.) But only rarely does the score seem worthy of this lush treatment: in Norma’s two sweeping solos, “With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” and in the cinematic, mournful, ominous opening strains of the overture, later taken up by Max as “The Greatest Star of All.”
Robert Feldberg – North Jersey
The huge ensemble provides a thrilling symphonic sound you seldom hear in a Broadway theater, and I couldn’t imagine Lloyd Webber’s sweeping, romantic score being showcased more potently.