Sunset Boulevard Revival, Starring Glenn Close, Opens on Broadway

Broadway News   Sunset Boulevard Revival, Starring Glenn Close, Opens on Broadway The Tony-winning actor returns to the role of Norma Desmond more than 20 years since starring in the original Broadway production.
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Glenn Close Richard Hubert Smith

Three-time Tony Award winner Glenn Close returns to Broadway in a revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Sunset Boulevard, which officially opens February 9 at 6:30 PM following previews that began February 2 at the Palace Theatre. Close won her third Tony for her portrayal of Norma Desmond in the original 1994 Broadway production of Sunset.

Close is joined by Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis, Siobhan Dillon as Betty Schaefer, and Fred Johanson as Max von Mayerling with 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, and Jim Walton.

Direct from a sold-out engagement last year at the English National Opera, which marked Close’s West End debut, this production of the musical—which is based on Billy Wilder's classic film of the same name—features a 40-piece orchestra, unusually large by contemporary standards.

Tickets are currently on sale through June 25.

A HISTORY OF GREAT LADIES IN SUNSET BOULEVARD

Director Lonny Price, who also staged the London production, previously told Playbill.com, “Working with Glenn on this role was a real joy for me—primarily because Glenn was uninterested in a re-creation. She was, in fact, dead set on exploring what Norma and Sunset mean to her now, in 2016. I'm very excited New York audiences will get to experience this new and thrilling interpretation of this iconic role. To say nothing of a 40-piece orchestra playing what I think is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s very best!”

TWENTY YEARS LATER, GLENN CLOSE FINDS A NEW NORMA

The ENO production of Sunset Boulevard was nominated for two Evening Standard Awards: Best Musical and Best Musical Performance for Close.

Sunset Boulevard also features book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton.

“In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world,” according to press notes. “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.”

Lloyd Webber’s score includes “With One Look,” “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” and “Perfect Year.” With the opening of Sunset Boulevard at the Palace, the composer has the rare distinction of having four musicals running simultaneously on Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock—The Musical, Cats, and Sunset Boulevard.

Check out production photos from the recent London staging of Sunset with Close:

Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone created the role of Norma Desmond for the musical's 1993 world-premiere production in London, earning an Olivier nomination for her performance. Close played the role in Los Angeles and later in New York, where she won a 1995 Tony Award for her work as the aging, deluded silent-film star. Other musical Normas include Betty Buckley (London [Olivier nomination] and New York), Elaine Paige (London and New York), Karen Mason (Standby in Los Angeles and New York), Diahann Carroll (Canada), Petula Clark (London and U.S. tour), Rita Moreno (London), Debra Byrne (Australia), Helen Schneider (Germany), and Linda Balgord (U.S. tour). Florence Lacey, Loni Ackerman, Liz Callaway, and Valerie Perri are among those who have played the role regionally.

Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard is based on Wilder's 1950 movie of the same title, which featured Gloria Swanson as the reclusive Norma Desmond, who falls in love with an unlucky writer — Joe Gillis — who happens upon her home by accident. William Holden played Gillis in the film; Swanson, Holden, and Wilder all received Academy Award nominations for their work.

The creative team also includes choreographer Stephen Mear, scenic designer James Noone, costume designer Tracy Christensen, lighting designer Mark Henderson, sound designer Mick Potter, wig, hair and makeup designers Dave Bova and J. Jared Janas, fight directors Rick Sordelet and Christian Kelly-Sordelet, music director/conductor Kristen Blodgette, and associate director Matt Cowart. Anthony Powell designed Close's costumes.

Multiple Oscar nominee Close is a three-time Tony winner for her performances in The Real Thing, Death and the Maiden, and Sunset Boulevard.

Sunset Boulevard is produced by Paul Blake and Mike Bosner by special arrangement with Really Useful Group Ltd.

Watch Close discuss returning to the role of Norma Desmond:

Performances are Wednesdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets are $65-$199 and are available by calling Ticketmaster at (877) 250-2929 or online at www.ticketmaster.com/sunset.

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