Who needs an enormous staircase replete with an enormous chandelier? Well certainly not Glenn Close who has once again achieved the pinnacle of musical dominance in the revival of Sunset Boulevard which opened Thursday night at the Palace Theater on Broadway. She blew us away some 23 years ago in the role of Norma Desmond and she wows us once again in one of my favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber shows. Incidentally he now has 4 shows running at once on Broadway but Sunset, in my mind, is right now the best of the foursome.
This pared-down revival which was taken from the 1950 movie starring Gloria Swanson, William Holden and Erich von Stroheim doesn’t have the monstrous sets and the big sweeping stairway which frankly I was hoping to see once again, but it does have a fabulous concert style big orchestra behind an excellent cast which besides Ms. Close includes a buff Michael Xavier as the down on his luck and out of work screenwriter, Siobhan Dillon as his girlfriend Betty and Fred Johanson as Max her servant and ex-husband. In case you have a good memory there’s also a hairy gorilla but his presence doesn’t really matter or did it? The show starts at the end of the story with our intrepid writer dead in a swimming pool and plays backward from his arrival at her mansion on Sunset Boulevard.
Norma, that’s Glen, who is fading fast but trying to keep in the movie business spotlight she loved, gets involved in trying to convince Cecil B DeMille, accurately played by Paul Schoeffler, that she is still a big star. She hopes he’ll produce her new play about Salome which Joe Gillis, the now “permanent house guest” is working on which of course will star herself.
Now I don’t know if there are many listeners out there who remember the music and lyrics but if you do you will be happy to hear that the two big numbers, With One Look and As If We Never Said Goodbye, are still fabulous and Ms. Close renditions haven’t lost anything since her last appearance in the show. There’s lots more umbers in my memory bank including The Lady’s Paying, New Ways to Dream and the title song but the above two are star turns never to be forgotten.
Finally, let’s face it, you must make sure you see Sunset Boulevard if only to see a sensational Glenn Close. I guarantee you will jump to your feet when it’s over some 2 ½ hours later. What a wonderful night in the theater. The Palace and Glen...just the best combination there could ever be!