The Top 10 Broadway Musical Replacements

By Ben Rimalower
31 Aug 2013

Betty Buckley as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard

One of the biggest disappointments in my life as a theatregoer is the fact that I missed Patti LuPone as Norma Desmond in the original London production of Sunset Boulevard. Still, though, I was excited to see Glenn Close perform the role on Broadway. I've been a huge fan of Close's for years, and count her turns in "The World According to Garp" and "Dangerous Liaisons" among my favorite movie star performances. Unfortunately, Close's performance, for me, was the rotting core in an overall disappointing musical. I won't even get into what was sorely lacking in her singing. Her Norma was a gargoyle, an oversized loon, vamping and camping around the stage like a undead hologram in the Haunted House at Disneyland. Still, I returned to the show to see Betty Buckley as Norma Desmond and I was so glad I did. Buckley's Norma transported me. Her high cheekbones and penetrating eyes perfectly suited the silent film diva Desmond and Buckley sang the score exquisitely, offering her own inimitable introspective depth by way of truly grand vocals, both thrilling and haunting. I only she wish she'd been given the opportunity to sing in LuPone's exciting original keys. Nonetheless, I treasure my memories of Buckely's performance (and the five-song EP she recorded of the main songs).  Continued...