Florence Lacey, who has a long history as a popular Eva in Lloyd Webber's Evita, stars as Norma, who seeks a 1950s return to stardom via a new picture, the screenplay of which is being cleaned up by a handsome young screenwriter that she ensnares. D.B. Bonds (The Phantom of the Opera; Les Misérables; Signature's The Visit) plays writer Joe Gillis.
Lacey began spinning Norma's dreams and delusions in song on Dec. 7. The run continues to Feb. 13, 2011. Lacey's stage credits also include Broadway's Hello, Dolly! and The Grand Tour, and Signature's Follies, among many other shows.
The new resident staging of the Tony Award-winning showbiz musical noir (with music by Lloyd Webber, and book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, based on Billy Wilder's film) is performed in the Signature's MAX Theatre.
Norma famously sings "As If We Never Said Goodbye" when she makes her comeback (er — "return") to a movie studio.
Director Schaeffer (Million Dollar Quartet) told Playbill.com's Diva Talk column, "We've actually turned the whole theatre into the back lot of Paramount Studios, so you feel like you're sitting in the back lot and there's sandbags and catwalks overhead, and then that actually transforms into the mansion. We've done a lot of stuff that's different from the original with the usage of film….We have all these different film sequences — there's a whole film sequence that goes on during … the opening of Act Two. I just think the intimacy of the space, of seeing this huge musical being done so intimately [is another difference], and I think the music is so important. It's such a character of the show, and so that's why we're doing it with a 20-piece orchestra." The story of a hungry young screenwriter who hitches his wagon to a faded star also features Susan Derry (Wonderful Town) as love interest and fellow screenwriter Betty; Ed Dixon (Les Miz, The Iceman Cometh, The Three Musketeers) as Norma's mysterious major domo Max von Mayerling; three-time Helen Hayes Award winner Fred Shiffman as Sheldrake; and Harry Winter as Cecil B. DeMille.
Music director and conductor Jon Kalbfleisch leads the orchestra. The creative team includes Karma Camp (choreography), Daniel Conway (sets), Howell Binkley (lights), Kathleen Geldard (costumes) and Matt Rowe (sound).
The Sunset Boulevard ensemble features Sandy Bainum, Matt Conner, William Diggle, Rebecca Fale, Gia Mora, Jake Odmark, Kirstin Riegler, Stephen Gregory Smith, Sean Thompson, Matthew Wojtal and Kara Tameika Watkins.
The musical won 1995 Tony Awards for Musical, Book, Score, Lighting, Scenic Design and Leading Actress (Glenn Close), Featured Actor (George Hearn). Patti LuPone originated the role in London, where it played its world premiere.
Tickets range in price from $59-$85 and are available by calling Ticketmaster at (703) 573-SEAT (7328) or visiting www.signature-theatre.org.