"Sing Out, Louise!" Our Top Ten Musical Theatre Diva Vehicles

By Ben Rimalower
05 Aug 2013

Betty Buckley in Sunset Boulevard.
Photo by Joan Marcus

9. Sunset Boulevard

In some ways, Sunset Boulevard should be the ultimate diva vehicle. The source material is Billy Wilder's masterpiece movie about a faded film star and the music is by the pop opera power ballad prodigy Andrew Lloyd Webber. Indeed, there are moments in Sunset Boulevard — Norma's first big "aria," "With One Look" about the power she has over an audience, the "New Ways To Dream" sequence where she revisits her past triumphs and, most undeniably, "As If We Never Said Goodbye," her Greek tragedy-esque love song to the Paramount Pictures soundstage only she believes is welcoming her back. It's the rest of Sunset Boulevard that drags it down for me: All the repetition of lyrics harping on hollow themes as stock characters take stage time away from the main event, which is, of course, whoever is playing Norma Desmond.