Loni Ackerman, who played the title role during the original Broadway run of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Evita, will take on the lead role of former silent-screen star Norma Desmond in the Gateway's upcoming production of Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard.
Directed by Larry Rabin with musical direction by Jeffrey Buchsbaum, performances at the Bellport, NY, venue are scheduled for Aug. 3-20.
Ackerman will be joined by Robert Townsend as struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis and Joel Robinson as Max von Mayerling, Desmond's butler and first husband. Iconic filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille will be played by Philip Hoffman with Gail Bennett as Betty Schaffer.
Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard (with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton) is based on the 1950 movie of the same name, 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, which was directed by the late Billy Wilder. Swanson, Holden and Wilder all received Academy Award nominations for their work.
Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone created the role of Norma Desmond for the musical's world-premiere production in London, earning an Olivier nomination for her performance. Glenn Close played the role in Los Angeles and later in New York, where she won a Tony Award for her work as the aging, deluded actress. Other musical Normas include Elaine Paige (London and New York), Betty Buckley (London and New York), Diahann Carroll (Canada), Petula Clark (London and U.S. tour), Debra Byrne (Australia), Helen Schneider (Germany) and Linda Balgord (U.S. tour). Florence Lacey recently played the role at the Signature Theatre.
The Gateway's 2011 season will continue with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, playing Aug. 24-Sept. 11.
For more information call (631) 286-1133 or 1-888-4TIXNOW, or visit www.gatewayplayhouse.org.