“It's not a comeback – it's a return!”
The dreams of many a theatre fan recently came true when it was announced that Glenn Close would reprise her Tony Award-winning performance of 'Norma Desmond' in Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic musical 'Sunset Boulevard' for a limited run at the English National Opera next year. Following on from the highly successful semi-staged production of 'Sweeney Todd' earlier this year, which starred Emma Thompson as Mrs Lovett, director Lonny Price returns to the ENO to stage one of Britain’s most loved musicals in a brand new production.
The original London production was notorious for many reasons, and went on to achieve international acclaim. Originally opening with Patti LuPone in the central role of faded screen star of yesteryear, backstage drama led to her being replaced by Glenn Close for the Broadway première, following a successful opening in Los Angeles. Petula Clarke, Betty Buckley, Rita Moreno and Elaine Paige all took on the role during the London run, but Glenn Close's performance is yet to be seen in the UK – until now.
Featuring one of Lloyd Webber's most famous scores including the hit songs “With One Look”, “As If We Never Said Goodbye”, “Sunset Boulevard” and “Too Much in Love To Care”, this musical has a wide fan base all over the world, who are drawn to the epic nature of the story and performances. Based on Billy Wilder's 1950 film of the same name which starred Gloria Swanson, the musical was last seen in London in a reduced production in 2008 at the Comedy Theatre.
This new semi-staged production will feature the orchestra of the ENO, alongside a full supporting cast of talented performers. Don't miss out on one of the biggest theatrical events for many years, and get ready for your close up with Mr DeMille.
We've put together a list of our favourite Sunset Boulevard moments to get you excited for the show.
1. Elaine Paige - “As If We Never Said Goodbye”
One of the biggest songs from the show performed by the First Lady of British Musical Theatre, Ms Elaine Paige herself. During this number, Norma returns to the studio for the first time in years, under the illusion that they will film her script which will mark her return to the screen. As she takes in how much everything has changed, she delivers one of the shows most iconic moments.
2. Glenn Close - “With One Look”
One of Norma's biggest songs comes from the first act of the musical where Joe meets her for the first time in her house, and recognises her from her old pictures. As he tells her she used to be big, she replies with the famous line “I AM big...it's the pictures that got small”, and goes into one of the most challenging songs from the show. Here Glenn Close performers the number at Andrew Lloyd Webber's Royal Albert Hall Celebration.
3. Hugh Jackman - “Sunset Boulevard”
Writer Joe finds himself caught up in Norma's story and soon realises that he has 'sold out' in order to live with Norma. The second act opens with one of the most powerful and emotionally charged numbers from the show, where Joe speaks to the audience and attempts to justify his new existence.
4. Alice Ripley and Alan Campbell - “Too Much in Love to Care”
Every musical needs a great love song, and in 'Sunset Boulevard' the audience have to wait until late on in the show, when Joe realises he is in love with young writer Betty Schaefer. The pair know that they shouldn't be in love with each other, but concluded that they are just “too much in love to care”.
5. Patti LuPone - “Salome”
Andrew Lloyd Webber's score isn't just sweeping ballads and powerful solo numbers – it also includes some of the most dramatic music ever written for the stage. In this number, Norma tells Joe about the script she has written that will be her 'return' to the stage as 16 year old Salome. Original Norma Desmond Patti LuPone is the only Norma to perform the score in the original keys and her remarkable voice has meant for many she is the definitive Ms Desmond.
6. Final Scene
The 1950 film has gone down in history as being one of the most iconic pictures ever made. The final scene, where Norma is taken away by the police but thinks she is on set filming has to be the most dramatic ending to a film possible. On stage, this ending is recreated, along with the immortal lines “And now Mr DeMille, I'm ready for my close up”. Watch this video mash-up of different Norma's playing the final scene, and see if you have a favourite.