Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sunset Boulevard


To say that this revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1993 musical, now in a limited run at the Palace Theatre, was greeted with wild enthusiasm would be a gross understatement. From the moment that Glenn Close first appeared, it was clear that the evening would be a love fest between her and her fans. Not that she doesn’t deserve the acclaim. Although her voice sounded a bit pinched at times, her Norma Desmond is one for the ages. She is joined by a fine supporting cast — Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis, Fred Johanson as Max von Mayerling and Siobhan Dillon as Betty Schaeffer. The production, an import from the English National Opera, makes an interesting trade-off: instead of lavish sets, we get a 40-piece orchestra onstage. Unfortunately, the larger orchestra does not improve the quality of the music. The reduced emphasis on set design somehow makes the story stand out more. The production is more than semi-staged, but the bare-bones set by James Noone is only one step above a typical Encores production. The book by Don Black and Christopher Hampton is respectful to the screenplay of the Billy Wilder film and includes some of its best lines. Tracy Christensen’s evocative costumes are a major asset. Lonny Price directs with a sure hand. If you love the film and are a fan of Glenn Close, you will have a good time. If you do not appreciate Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music, you might not. Running time: 2 1/2 hours, including intermission.

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