The revamped Sunset Boulevard tour will begin its journey on Dec. 1 at Pittsburgh's Benedum Performing Arts Center. The 47-city tour, presented by PACE Theatrical Group and Columbia Artists Management, will take the show through the year 2000.
Busy designer Derek McLane has been selected to rethink the settings for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The tour's producers hope to bring down costs by modifying the enormous John Napier set which hampered Sunset's first road company.
"During the first tour, it was physically too heavy," said Scott Zeiger (May 1), president of PACE Theatrical Group, which is producing the tour with Columbia Artists. The musical's initial U.S. tour began a projected six year journey July 10, 1996 but came to an abrupt end less than one year later.
Zeiger told Playbill On-Line that Sunset's original road company actually did remarkably well, when compared to the box-office income of comparable touring shows, but was sunk by load-in costs. Fully $1 million was spent every time the original set was ferried from one city to the next. Such expense made it imperative the show remain at each tour stop for a minimum of five weeks in order to make up the cost.
"In a mid-sized market like Tampa, the show grossed $2.5 million over the run," explained Zeiger. "But spread out over five weeks, when the break even point is $500,000, that's terrible." The new set will be easily transported and enable the tour to make short, week-long stops. Under those circumstances, said Zeiger, "even if we have a quarter of the figures [of the last tour], and do a quarter of the run, that would be fantastic." Tony Meola has been hired to do sound, while Peter Kaczorowski will design the lighting.
Kathleen Marshall, artistic director of NY's acclaimed "Encores!" series, has been signed as choreographer on the new production. Marshall joins her frequent collaborator, director Susan H. Schulman, on the project.
A complete list of tour dates, as it now stands, follows:
Dec. 1-Dec. 6, 1998: Pittsburgh, PA
Dec. 7-13: Richmond, VA
Dec. 14-20: Columbus, OH
Dec. 21-27: Houston, TX
Dec. 28, 1998-Jan. 3, 1999: Louisville, KY
Jan. 4-10: Kansas City, KS
Jan. 11-17: Memphis, TN
Jan. 18-31: Philadelphia, PA
Feb. 1-7: Newark, NJ
Feb. 8-24: Cleveland, OH
Feb. 25-28: Schenectady, NY
Mar. 1-21: Detroit, MI
Mar. 22-28 : Providence, RI; Rochester, NY
Mar. 29-Apr. 4: Baltimore, MD
Apr. 5-11: East Lansing, MI
Apr. 12-18: Hershey, PA
Apr. 19-May 2: New Haven, CT
May 3-9: New Orleans, LA
May 10-16: Orlando, FL
Additional cities are to be added.
-- By Robert Simonson