Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sunset Boulevard (musical)
Sunset Boulevard is a musical play based on the movie of the same title. The plot revolves around Norma Desmond, a faded star of the silent screen era, living in the past in her decaying mansion on the fabled Los Angeles street. When a young screenwriter named Joe Gillis accidentally crosses her path, she sees in him an opportunity to pave the way for her comeback to the big screen. (When Gillis comments, "You used to be big," she retorts "I am big . . . it's the pictures that got small!") A thwarted romance and tragedy follow.
With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, direction by Trevor Nunn, and starring Patti LuPone and Daniel Benzali , the production first opened at the Adelphi Theatre (owned by Lloyd Webber) in London's West End. Reviews were less than ecstatic - many critics felt that the score was repetitive and more time had been spent constructing the mammoth set than working on the book. Still, it was an instant sell-out success.
The American premiere was at the Shubert Theatre in Century City, Los Angeles, California, on December 9, 1993, with Glenn Close as Norma and Alan Campbell as Joe. Featured were George Hearn as Max and Judy Kuhn as Betty.
Sunset Boulevard opened on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre on November 17, 1994 with Close, Campbell and Hearn recreating their roles from the Los Angeles production and Alice Ripley joining the cast as Betty. Also in the cast were Allen Oppenheimer and Vincent Tumeo. The production opened with the highest advance in the history of Broadway ticket sales. It ran for nine hundred and seventy-seven performances. In a dismal season where it was practically the only new musical to open, it won several Tony Awards in the musical category, primarily by default.
LuPone, who initially had been promised the Broadway run, sued Lloyd Webber and won an out-of-court settlement reputed to be an extremely healthy sum. She wasn't the only actress to get paid for not playing - Faye Dunaway, set to replace Close in L.A., proved to be unable to meet the vocal challenges of the score, and was unceremoniously fired. She, too, sued Lloyd Webber.
Between 1995 and 2000, Petula Clark starred as Norma Desmond in the West End production (following Betty Buckley and Elaine Paige), opening to unanimous raves, followed by the national tour in the States. A first attempt at touring the show had been aborted due to exorbitant costs involved in transporting the set, so Lloyd Webber called in director Susan H. Schulman to design a scaled-down production, with the impressive Clark again in the lead. In 2004, she repeated her performance at the Cork Opera House in Ireland for broadcast on BBC Radio. To date, she has played the role more often than any other actress.
The following list is as according to the 1994 Los Angeles Cast Recording
- Overture/I Guess It Was 5 A.M
- Let's Have Lunch
- Every Movie's a Circus
- At the House on Sunset
- With One Look
- Greatest Star of All
- Every Movie's a Circus (Reprise)
- Girl Meets Boy
- Back at the House on Sunset
- New Ways to Dream
- Completion of the Script
- Lady's Paying
- New Year's Eve
- Perfect Year
- This Time Next Year
- New Year's Eve (Back at the House on Sunset)
- Sunset Boulevard
- There's Been a Call/Journey to Paramount
- As If We Never Said Goodbye
- Paramount Conversations/Surrender (Reprise)
- Girl Meets Boy (Reprise)
- Eternal Youth Is Worth a Little Suffering
- Who's Betty Schaefer?
- Betty's Office at Paramount
- Too Much in Love to Care
- New Ways to Dream (Reprise)
- Phone Call
- Final Scene
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