Sunset Boulevard, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tony-winning 1994 hit musical about a faded silent-film star's aborted comeback, will close in both London and New York in the coming weeks -- reportedly because the producers are unable to find stars of sufficient stature to play the central character.
Elaine Paige is playing Norma Desmond on Broadway -- her New York debut -- and Petula Clark is playing the role in London.
Sunset Boulevard, with lyrics by don Black and Christopher Hampton, opened in July 1993 in London and in November 1994 in New York. The Broadway production will close March 22 after 977 performances. The London production closes April 5; Fiona Thomas at the Really Useful Company said the West End performance count hadn't been finalized but stood at 1456 as of Feb. 1.
Both productions were directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Bob Avian.
The closing caught Really Useful somewhat shorthanded; Variety reported that the company laid off 16 London-based staffers, including Jerry Blair, a senior financial officer, and Alistair Smith. The firm empl0ys 60. Variety reported that layoffs are anticipated at the New York office as well, though a Really Useful spokesperson denied it. The Broadway production won seven Tony Awards -- two uncontested: Best Musical, Best Score (uncontested), Best Book (uncontested), Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical.
The Broadway closing frees up the huge Minskoff Theatre in the midst of a severe booking jam.
-- By Robert Viagas