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Sunset Boulevard (musical)

Sunset Boulevard
Original West End Logo
Music Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics Don Black
Christopher Hampton
Book Don Black
Christopher Hampton
Basis 1950 film Sunset Blvd.
Productions 1991, 1992 Sydmonton Festival
1993 West End
1993 Los Angeles
1994 Broadway
1995 Canada
1995 Germany
1996 Australia
1996, 1998 US tour
2001 UK tour
2008 West End revival
2008 The Netherlands
2009 Sweden
2012 Japan
2013 South Africa
2015 Czech Republic - Ostrava
2016 Denver
Awards Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Score
Tony Award for Best Book

Sunset Boulevard is a musical with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on Billy Wilder's Academy Award-winning 1950 film of the same title, the plot revolves around Norma Desmond, a faded star of the silent screen era, living in the past in her decaying mansion on the fabled Los Angeles street. When young screenwriter Joe Gillis accidentally crosses her path, she sees in him an opportunity to make her comeback to the big screen. Romance and tragedy follow.

Opening first in London in 1993, the musical has had several long runs internationally and also enjoyed extensive tours, although the show, which has been the subject of several legal battles, lost money because of its extraordinary running costs.


  • Background 1
  • Synopsis 2
  • Major characters 3
  • Musical numbers 4
  • Productions 5
    • Original London production 5.1
    • Los Angeles production 5.2
    • Original Broadway production 5.3
    • Touring productions 5.4
    • Original Canadian production 5.5
    • Original Australian production 5.6
    • International productions 5.7
    • Concert productions 5.8
    • 2008 London revival 5.9
    • 2016 London revival 5.10
    • Other productions 5.11
  • Proposed film project 6
  • Awards and nominations 7
    • Original London production 7.1
    • Original Broadway production 7.2
    • 2008 London revival 7.3
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


From approximately 1952 to 1956, Gloria Swanson worked with actor Richard Stapley (aka Richard Wyler) and cabaret singer/pianist Dickson Hughes on a musical adaptation originally entitled Starring Norma Desmond, then Boulevard![1] It ended on a happier note than the film, with Norma allowing Joe to leave and pursue a happy ending with Betty. Paramount originally had given Swanson verbal permission to proceed with the musical, but there had been no formal legal arrangement. On 20 February 1957, Paramount executive Russell Holman wrote Swanson a letter in which he asked her to cease work on the project because "it would be damaging for the property to be offered to the entertainment public in another form as a stage musical."[2] In 1994, Hughes incorporated material from the production into Swanson on Sunset, based on his and Stapley's experiences in writing Boulevard!. A recording of the entire score, which had been housed in the Gloria Swanson archives at the University of Texas, was released on CD in 2008.

In the early 1960s, Stephen Sondheim outlined a musical stage adaptation and went so far as to compose the first scene with librettist Burt Shevelove. A chance encounter with Billy Wilder at a cocktail party gave Sondheim the opportunity to introduce himself and ask the original film's co-screenwriter and director his opinion of the project (which was to star Jeanette MacDonald). "You can't write a musical about Sunset Boulevard," Wilder responded, "it has to be an opera. After all, it's about a dethroned queen." Sondheim immediately aborted his plans. A few years later, when he was invited by Hal Prince to write the score for a film remake starring Angela Lansbury as a fading musical comedienne rather than a silent film star, Sondheim declined, citing his conversation with Wilder.[3]

When Lloyd Webber saw the film in the early 1970s, he was inspired to write what he pictured as the title song for a theatrical adaptation, fragments of which he instead incorporated into Gumshoe.[4] In 1976, after a conversation with Hal Prince, who had the theatrical rights to Sunset, Lloyd Webber wrote "an idea for the moment when Norma Desmond returns to Paramount Studios"; Lloyd Webber did no further work on the play until after 1989's Aspects of Love.[4]

At that point, Lloyd Webber "felt it was the subject [he] had to compose next",[4] though by February 1990 he had announced plans to turn Really Useful Group private so he could "make movies rather than musicals."[5]

In 1991, Lloyd Webber asked Amy Powers, a lawyer from New York with no professional lyric-writing experience, to write the lyrics for Sunset Boulevard.[6] Don Black was later brought in to work with Powers; the two wrote the version that was performed in 1991 at Lloyd Webber's Sydmonton Festival. This original version starred Ria Jones as Norma.[7] but it was not a success. A revised version, written by Black and Christopher Hampton had a complete performance at the 1992 Sydmonton Festival, now with Patti LuPone playing Norma,[8] and "met with great success".[6] Lloyd Webber borrowed several of the tunes from his 1986 mini-musical Cricket, written with Tim Rice, which had been performed at Windsor Castle and later at the Sydmonton Festival.[9]


In 1949 Hollywood, down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis tries to hustle up some work at Paramount Studios. His appointment with a producer goes poorly when the executive rejects both Joe's proposed script and a loan to bring his car payments up to date. Joe does, however, meet Betty Schaefer, a pretty, young script editor who suggests they collaborate to rework one of his earlier screenplays. As they chat, Joe is spotted by car repossession agents and makes a quick escape.

During the chase that ensues, Joe evades his pursuers by pulling into the garage of a palatial but dilapidated mansion on Sunset Boulevard. Beckoned inside the house, Joe encounters Norma Desmond, the "greatest star of all" who ruled the silent film era but didn't make the transition to sound movies. Taken aback, Joe comments, "You used to be in pictures; you used to be big," to which Norma retorts, "I am big — it's the pictures that got small!"

The gloomy estate is inhabited only by Norma and Max, her loyal butler and chauffeur. Although decades past her prime and mostly forgotten by the public, Norma is convinced she is as beautiful and in demand as ever. Max perpetuates this illusion by shielding her from the realities of life out of the limelight and by writing her letters purportedly from still-devoted fans. Norma informs Joe of her plan to return to the screen with Salome, a script she has written for Cecil B. DeMille to direct with her in the starring role as the teenage biblical temptress. Dubious but sensing opportunity, Joe persuades her to let him edit the story in exchange for room and board.

Joe immediately realizes the script is incoherent, but Norma won't allow a major rewrite and the revision drags on for months. During this time Joe is a virtual prisoner at the house, but he does break away to fulfill his commitment to Betty. Their working relationship blossoms into a romance that has her reconsidering her engagement to Joe's best friend, Artie.

Blind to Joe's opportunism, Norma lavishes him with gifts that include a wardrobe makeover and he becomes her kept man. She declares her love for him and turns quite possessive; when he leaves her to attend Artie's New Year's Eve party, she is distraught and attempts suicide. As a conciliatory gesture, Joe reluctantly returns to work on Salome.

A cryptic message from from Paramount has Norma certain that DeMille is eager to discuss her script. She drops in on the set of his current film and is greeted warmly by former colleagues and the famed director himself, but DeMille is noncommittal about Salome. Meanwhile, Max discovers the studio had called to ask about Norma's exotic car, not her screenplay. However, a delusional Norma leaves the lot convinced she'll soon be back in front of the cameras and begins to prepare for the role.

Increasingly paranoid, Norma deduces that Joe and Betty are more than just friends. She calls the younger woman to reveal Joe's secret life at the mansion, but he overhears and grabs the phone to tell Betty to come see for herself. Realizing their affair is doomed, Joe brusquely tells her he enjoys being Norma's pet and that she should go back to Artie. Betty departs, confused and brokenhearted, and Joe tells Norma he's leaving her and returning to his hometown in Ohio. He also bluntly informs her that Salome is an unfilmable script and her fans have long abandoned her. Furious and grief-stricken, Norma fatally shoots Joe as he storms out of the house.

Now completely insane, Norma mistakes the swarms of police and reporters who arrive for studio personnel. Imagining she is on the set of Salome, she slowly descends her grand staircase and utters the immortal phrase, "And now, Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close-up."

Major characters

  • Norma Desmond — a faded, eccentric, former silent screen star
  • Joe Gillis — a struggling young screenwriter
  • Max von Mayerling – Norma's first husband and butler
  • Betty Schaefer – A budding writer and Joe's love interest
  • Cecil B. DeMille – the famous director
  • Artie Green – Betty's fiancé
  • Sheldrake – a movie producer on the lot
  • Manfred – an expensive tailor

Musical numbers

† This is not included on the Original London Production or in the World Premiere recording.

∞ Originally a reprise of "Let's Have Lunch"


Original London production

The original West End production, directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Bob Avian, with costumes from Anthony Powell, opened on 12 July 1993 at the Adelphi Theatre. The cast featured Patti LuPone as Norma Desmond, Kevin Anderson as Joe Gillis, Meredith Braun as Betty Schaefer, and Daniel Benzali as Norma's ex-husband, Max.[10]

Billy Wilder and his wife Audrey were joined by Nancy Olson, who had played Betty Schaefer in the original film, at the opening night performance. Of it, Wilder observed, "The best thing they did was leave the script alone," and of Patti LuPone he exclaimed, "She's a star from the moment she walks on stage."[11]

Reviews were mixed, according to the Associated Press (AP) review summary. That summary quoted, for example, the review by Michael Kuchwara for the AP: "Some reviewers felt Lloyd Webber took the sting out of a cynical tale. 'Wilder's bitter brew has been diluted,' wrote AP Drama Critic Michael Kuchwara. He added: 'When LuPone is off stage, the show sags.'"[12] Frank Rich wrote "Much of the film's plot, dialogue and horror-movie mood are preserved, not to mention clips used to illustrate those sequences in which the faded silent-film star, Norma Desmond ...and her kept young screenwriter, Joe Gillis ..., travel by car. The lyricist, Don Black ..., and the playwright, Christopher Hampton ..., smartly tailor their jokes to the original screenplay's style. At times even Lloyd Webber gets into the Wilder swing. Both acts open with joltingly angry diatribes about Hollywood, part exposition-packed recitative and part song, in which the surprisingly dark, jazz-accented music, the most interesting I've yet encountered from this composer, meshes perfectly with the cynical lyrics. Anderson makes the sardonic Wilder voice an almost physical presence in Sunset Boulevard. But that voice is too often drowned out by both LuPone's Broadway belt and by the mechanical efforts of Lloyd Webber and his director, Trevor Nunn, to stamp the proven formulas of Phantom and Les Miz on even an intimate tale. At odd moments the mammoth set advances like a glacier toward the audience or retreats or, most dramatically, rises partly up into the flies, actors in tow."[10]

The show closed for three weeks, re-opening on 19 April 1994, revamped to follow the Los Angeles production, with a second official "opening". The revamped musical had a new song, "Every Movie's A Circus", a new set, and new stars, Betty Buckley and John Barrowman.[13] Michael Bauer, who had played DeMille in the original production replaced Benzali as Max, a role he played until the end of the London run (and subsequently on the UK tour and the BBC concert) and Anita Louise Combe (also from the original cast, understudying the role of Betty Shaeffer for the first nine months – and subsequently went on to play Betty Schaeffer in the Canadian Premiere with Diahann Carroll). Buckley and the production garnered rave reviews. David Lister of The Independent, for example wrote: "The show looked an improvement on the one that got decidedly mixed reviews last summer."[13]

Buckley then followed Glenn Close as Norma Desmond in the second year of the Broadway production. Elaine Paige, who had filled in when Buckley was ill in 1994, took over as Norma Desmond in the West End in May 1995[14] before joining the Broadway production for the end of its run between 1996 and 1997. Petula Clark filled in for Paige during her holiday in September/October 1995, before taking over the role in January 1996[15] when Paige departed for the United States. The last actress to play Desmond in London was Rita Moreno, who filled in for a vacationing Clark in September and October 1996. John Barrowman played Joe until 1995, when he was replaced by Alexander Hanson. Graham Bickley played the role for the final year of the London run.

The show closed on 5 April 1997, running for 1,530 performances.[16]

Los Angeles production

The [17] This new production was better received by the critics and was an instant success, running for 369 performances. The Los Angeles production also recorded a new cast album that is well regarded. It is also the only unabridged cast recording of the show, since the original London recording was trimmed by over thirty minutes.

A huge controversy arose with this production after Faye Dunaway was hired to replace Glenn Close. Dunaway went into rehearsals with Rex Smith as Joe and Jon Cypher as Max. Tickets went on sale for Dunaway's engagement but shortly after rehearsals started the producers announced that Dunaway was unable to sing the role to their standards and the production would shut down when Close left. Dunaway filed a lawsuit claiming her reputation had been damaged by the producer's claims. Speculation was the real reason for the closing was that ticket sales for Dunaway's engagement were not what had been hoped for and the producers feared the bad press from a financial and perhaps artistically struggling LA engagement would hurt the buzz for the upcoming Broadway opening. Dunaway's lawsuit was settled and the producers paid her a settlement but no other terms of the agreement have ever been discussed.

Original Broadway production

The musical opened on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre on 17 November 1994 with Close, Campbell, and Hearn recreating their roles from the Los Angeles production and Alice Ripley joining the cast as Betty. Also in the cast were Alan Oppenheimer as Cecil B. DeMille and Vincent Tumeo making his Broadway debut as Artie Green. The production opened with the highest advance in the history of Broadway ticket sales at that time[18] and ran for 977 performances. Billy Wilder was in attendance on opening night and was coaxed onstage by Close for the curtain call.[11] In a season with only one other musical nominated for Best Musical, the production won several Tony Awards; Glenn Close, with only one other nominee as Best Actress in a musical, won the Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.

New York Times theatre critic Vincent Canby commented about the Tony Awards for this year: "Awards don't really tell you much when the competition is feeble or simply nonexistent, as was the case the year that Sunset Boulevard won its Tony. Such prizes are for use in advertising and promotion and to impress the folks back home."[19]

Patti LuPone, who initially had been promised the Broadway run, sued Lloyd Webber and received a settlement reported to be $1 million; Faye Dunaway, set to replace Close in L.A., was let go because Lloyd Webber felt her singing voice was not up to the role.[20] She also sued Lloyd Webber. Frank Rich, in his book The Hot Seat,[21] noted that these lawsuits contributed to Sunset Boulevard setting the record for the most money lost by a theatrical endeavour in the history of the United States. According to The New York Times, operating costs soared far beyond the budget, and the "Broadway production has earned back, at best, 80 percent of the initial $13 million".[20] For example, during the week of 2 July 1995, "it cost $731,304 to run Sunset Boulevard, including... advertising fees of $138,352 (which had been budgeted at $40,000 a week)."[20] The road companies also generated large financial losses. Rich puts the final figure near or above US$20 million lost, making the show what he termed a "flop-hit," as it ran more than two years. The musical sold over a million tickets on Broadway.[22]

Cover of Petula Clark's promotional CD.

Touring productions

The first national US tour in 1996 starring Linda Balgord[23] ended in early 1997 after only a handful of venues due to exorbitant costs involved in transporting the set.[24] Lloyd Webber called in director Susan H. Schulman to design a scaled-down production, with Petula Clark once again in the lead opposite Lewis Cleale as Joe. This production featured Anthony Powell's Tony Award nominated costumes, a slightly modified libretto by Schulman and Don Black and a new, more tour-friendly set by Derek McLane.[25] The revised production, opening in Pittsburgh about a year after the closing of the original tour in Chicago, went on the road for almost two years, though it avoided the cities covered by the previous tour.

In August 2001, a UK tour commenced in Plymouth starring Faith Brown as Norma, opposite Earl Carpenter as Joe. The production had a completely new set, much simpler than the original London set, but without compromising the quality of the show and the overall production remaining more faithful to the original staging than the previous US tour with Petula Clark. Carpenter left midway through the tour and was replaced by Jeremy Finch, who had previously understudied the role. The tour finished in late 2002 in Manchester and met with both excellent reviews and respectable ticket sales.

Original Canadian production

The Toronto production opened in 1995 with Diahann Carroll in the lead role. Her performance was also praised by critics, although the production closed sooner than expected. It also starred Rex Smith as Joe, Walter Charles as Max and Anita Louise Combe as Betty. The production later moved to Vancouver for the final few months of its run. A highlights cast recording of this production was issued on CD in 1995.

Original Australian production

In October 1996, the original Australian production of the musical opened at Melbourne's newly restored Regent Theatre. The cast included Debra Byrne as Norma, Hugh Jackman as Joe, and Catherine Porter as Betty.[26] Maria Mercedes starred as the alternate Norma, performing two of the eight shows each week.[27] Future Wicked star Amanda Harrison took over the role of Betty for the final months of the show's run. The production ran until 14 June 1997.[28]

International productions

A German production of the musical opened 7 December 1995 at the newly built Rhein-Main Theater in Niedernhausen near Wiesbaden, starring Helen Schneider and Sue Mathys (Matinees and Stand-By) as Norma Desmond and Uwe Kröger as Joe Gillis. A cast recording (with Schneider and Kröger) was released in 1996. The role of Norma Desmond was later played by Daniela Ziegler and Christina Grimandi, before Schneider once more, and, for the last few months, Sue Mathys returned to play the lead. The German production of Sunset Boulevard closed in May 1998.

A low budget unauthorised production played for a time in Spain in 2000, with heavy alterations to the book and using a combination of the original score and the subsequent revision that appeared in the Los Angeles production.

A year-long Dutch tour commenced in the Netherlands on 10 October 2008, with Simone Kleinsma and Pia Douwes alternating as Norma and Antonie Kamerling as Joe. Kleinsma went on to win the Best Actress Award for the role in the 2009 Dutch Musical Awards and also Best Actress for the Flemish Musical Prizes. An official cast album was released, with Kleinsma appearing on the main album and with a four track bonus CD of Pia Douwes singing Norma's main arias.

The Swedish premiere took place at the Värmlandsoperan in September 2009, to mostly positive reviews. The role of Norma Desmond was played by Swedish actress Maria Lundqvist. A second much more elaborate production opened in October 2010, at the Gothenburg Opera House, with Gunilla Backman (who previously understudied the role of Betty Schaefer in the original German production) starring as Norma.

Concert productions

In 2004, Petula Clark reprised her role as Norma opposite Michael Ball in a concert production of the show that ran for two nights at the Cork Opera House in Ireland, which was later broadcast on BBC Radio. To date, with more than 2500 performances to her credit, she has played the role more often than any other actress.

Another two-day concert engagement took place in 2004 in Sydney by the Production Company; Judi Connelli starred as Norma, Michael Cormick played Joe and Anthony Warlow was Max. The Production Company staged a slightly more elaborate version of the concert for a week in Melbourne during 2005. Connelli again starred as Norma, and David Campbell took the role of Joe. The State Theatre was sold out for every performance.[29]

London Revival Logo

2008 London revival

An eight-week engagement of a minimalist production, in which the actors used musical instruments, enjoyed a good run at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury over the summer of 2008. Directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, the cast featured Kathryn Evans as Norma and Ben Goddard as Joe. A West End transfer of the Watermill production began on 4 December 2008 prior to an official opening 15 December at the Comedy Theatre, with Evans and Goddard reprising their roles, and Dave Willetts joining the cast as Max.[30] The production received rave reviews and extended its run to September 2009. However, the production closed just after initially planned on 30 May 2009.[31] It had originally been booking until 19 September 2009. There are plans for a UK Tour and also talks of bringing the production to Broadway[32]

2016 London revival

Starting 1 April 2016, Sunset Boulevard will have a 5 week run at the London Colliseum (English National Opera). Glenn Close will reprise her role in this "semi-staged production", which will be her West End debut. Tickets went on sale in September 2015.[33]

Other productions

In 2004, the first regional production of Sunset Boulevard was staged in the round at the Marriott Theatre in Chicago for a limited period and was the first and only regional production to be licensed by the Really Useful Group (RUG) for the next six years. However, in the spring of 2010, the leasing rights were finally released to regional companies and numerous productions are now being planned across the United States.

The Ogunquit Playhouse production ran from 28 July through 14 August 2010, and starred Stefanie Powers as Norma Desmond and Todd Gearhart as Joe Gillis. This was the first fully staged production in the U.S. in nearly a decade. The Ogunquit production was directed by Shaun Kerrison, with choreography by Tom Kosis and featured costumes by Anthony Powell and an all new set designed exclusively for the Ogunquit stage by Todd Ivins.[34]

The Arvada Center production ran from 14 September to 10 October 2010, in Denver, Colorado, ironically the same city that launched the ill-fated first US tour back in 1996. The show starred Ann Crumb as Norma Desmond and Kevin Earley as Joe Gillis. The production was directed by Rod A. Landsberry.[35]

The Signature Theatre (Arlington, Virginia) production ran from 7 December 2010 to 13 February 2011 and starred Florence Lacey as Norma Desmond, with direction by Eric D. Schaeffer.[36] Schaeffer said that the theatre was turned "into the back lot of Paramount Studios, so you feel like you're sitting in the back lot and there's sandbags and catwalks overhead, and then that actually transforms into the mansion."[37] The production featured a 20-piece orchestra, which is the largest the theatre has ever used.[38]

External links

  • Ganzl, Kurt. Ganzl's book of the Broadway musical: 75 shows, from H.M.S. Pinafore to Sunset Boulevard. New York: Schirmer Books, 1995. ISBN 0-02-870832-6
  • Plot and production listing
  • Profile of the musical Broadway Musical Home


  1. ^ Based on liner notes to Boulevard! CD release by Richard Stapley, Tim J. Hutton, and Steven M. Warner
  2. ^ The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties by Sam Kashner and Jennifer MacNair, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002, ISBN 0-393-04321-5, pg. 346
  3. ^ On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder by Ed Sikov, Hyperion, New York, New York, 1998, pp. 467–468, ISBN 0-7868-6194-0
  4. ^ a b c '...Inspired by Sunset Boulevard' from Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group website
  5. ^ Lloyd Webber in Accord For Buyback of Company, a February 1990 article from The New York Times
  6. ^ a b "A Journey Down $un$set Blvd.". Goodspeed Musicals's Show Music magazine. Fall 1993. Retrieved 21 September 2008. 
  7. ^ Ansdell, Caroline. "20 Questions With... Ria Jones (Ria Jones speaking to Caroline Ansdell)", 5 March 2007
  8. ^ Snelson, John. Andrew Lloyd Webber Andrew Lloyd Webber, Yale University Press, 2009, ISBN 0-300-15113-6, p.16
  9. ^ "Cricket"Sir Tim Rice –
  10. ^ a b Rich, Frank. "Upstaging a New Lloyd Webber Musical" The New York Times, 14 July 1993
  11. ^ a b On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder, p. 589
  12. ^ Wolf, Matt. "'Sunset Boulevard' Has Mixed Reviews, But Billy Wilder's Impressed", Associated Press, 13 July 1993, International News (no page number)
  13. ^ a b Lister, David. "(SECOND) First Night / Hope dawns for 'Sunset Boulevard': 'Sunset Boulevard'; Adelphi Theatre" The Independent (London, England), 20 April 1994
  14. ^ De Jongh, Nicholas. "Elaine finds new ways to brighten up the Boulevard;'Sunset Boulevard' The Adelphi", Evening Standard (London), 18 May 1995, p. 7
  15. ^ Stringer, Robin. "At 62, Petula Succeeds To Sunset Throne", Evening Standard (London), 8 December 1995, p.17
  16. ^ Wolf, Matt. "As 'Sunsets' fade, Rug's new era dawns", Variety, 7 April 1997 – 13 April 1997, p. 175
  17. ^ Weinraub, Bernard."Hollywood Braces For Look Into Mirror Of 'Sunset Boulevard'". The New York Times, 9 December 1993
  18. ^ Sunset Boulevard History Inspiration
  19. ^ Canby, Vincent."Why Whisper About It? 'The Life' Is a Joy", The New York Times, 5 October 1997
  20. ^ a b c "Following 'Sunset,' Shadows Over Lloyd Webber's Empire", The New York Times, March 1997
  21. ^ Hot Seat: Theater Criticism for The New York Times, 1980–1993 (Random House, 1998. ISBN 0-679-45300-8) from the author's website
  22. ^ [2] Retrieved 9 August 2011
  23. ^ Campbell, Jackie."Linda Balgord Cast As Norma For 'Sunset Boulevard' National Tour" Rocky Mountain News, abstract from, 28 January 1996. Retrieved 3 August 2010
  24. ^ Newmark, Judith.HIATUS'LOOMS FOR `BOULEVARD'"St. Louis Post-Dispatch, abstract from, 23 March 1997. Retrieved 3 August 2010
  25. ^ Strom, Harper.Regional review, Atlanta Retrieved 3 August 2010
  26. ^ Hallett, Bryce. "Opening night shines for troubled 'Sunset'", The Australian, 28 October 1996, p. 3 (Local)
  27. ^ Thomson, Helen. "New star ensures Sunset still shines", The Age (Melbourne, Australia), 12 March 1997, p. 7 (Arts)
  28. ^ Burchall, Greg. "I'm ready for my curtain, Melbourne; Musicals: 'Sunset' sunset", The Age (Melbourne, Australia), 13 June 1997, p. 1 (Metro)
  29. ^ Information about the Australian production from
  30. ^ Shenton, Mark. "Sunset Boulevard Will Return to the West End in December", Playbill, 17 November 2008
  31. ^ London Revival of Sunset Boulevard to Close May 30
  32. ^ Watermills SUNSET BOULEVARD to Close in West End May 30, 2009
  33. ^ "Glenn Close Comes to ENO for 'Sunset Boulevard'"
  34. ^ Gans, Andrew.""With One Look": Stefanie Powers Is Norma Desmond in Ogunquit Playhouse's 'Sunset Boulevard'" Playbill, 28 July 2010
  35. ^ Blank, Matthew."PHOTO CALL: Ann Crumb, Kevin Earley and Jenny Gelwick Cruise 'Sunset Boulevard' in Denver" Playbill, 17 September 2010
  36. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Florence Lacey Will Star in Signature's Sunset Boulevard; Season Announced" Playbill, 24 February 2010
  37. ^ Gans, Andrew."Eric Schaeffer On the Signature Sunset and Kennedy Center 'Follies'" Playbill, 2 December 2010
  38. ^ Marks, Peter."A high point in the pit The Washington Post, 14 December 2010
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ Eberson, Sharon (24 November 2011). "Theater Notes: CLO lands Callaway; City actor makes mean cocktail". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ Hastings, Chris (10 July 2005). "Close and McGregor to star in Sunset Boulevard film".  
  45. ^ Hastings, Chris; Jones, Beth (5 August 2007). "Meryl Streep competes for Sunset Boulevard".  
  46. ^ "Madonna Wanted", The Village Voice, 8 April 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  47. ^ Bamigboye, Baz (9 December 2011). "BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Borat says 'I like' to joining Les Miserables". Daily Mail (London). 
  48. ^ Andrew Lloyd Webber Talks with Elain Paige (audio; at 8:30–9:21). Elaine Paige on Sunday. BBC Radio 2. 6 October 2013.
  49. ^ "Olivier Winners 1994" Retrieved 29 March 2011
  50. ^ "Olivier Winners 2009" Retrieved 29 March 2011


Year Award Category Nominee Result
2009 Laurence Olivier Award[50] Best Actress in a Musical Kathryn Evans Nominated
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Dave Willetts Nominated

2008 London revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1995 Tony Award Best Musical Won
Best Original Score Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Christopher Hampton Won
Best Book of a Musical Don Black and Christopher Hampton Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Alan Campbell Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Glenn Close Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical George Hearn Won
Best Direction of a Musical Trevor Nunn Nominated
Best Choreography Bob Avian Nominated
Best Scenic Design John Napier Won
Best Costume Design Anthony Powell Nominated
Best Lighting Design Andrew Bridge Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Glenn Close Won

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1994 Laurence Olivier Award[49] Best New Musical Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Patti LuPone Nominated
1995 Betty Buckley Nominated
1996 Elaine Paige Nominated

Original London production

Awards and nominations

I would love a film to be made of Sunset, of course, but unfortunately the rights are owned by Paramount who own the original movie and, so far, talks with them have never led to anything. And it's sad for me because I think in many ways Sunset is, I think, the most complete musical I have written, I mean in the sense that the book and the music and everything come together I think in a way that perhaps even some of the others, they don't. Anyway that's my sadness at the moment and maybe, one day, the whole thing will get brokered. I'm doing something else with Paramount because after I've done this I'm producing School of Rock on stage, and that's a Paramount picture, so maybe if they like what I do with that they'll let me do Sunset.[48]

In an interview with Elaine Paige during her BBC Radio 2 show Elaine Paige on Sunday on 6 October 2013, Lloyd Webber was asked "What's happening to the film?", and he replied:

Paramount Pictures and the Relevant Picture Company announced in 2005 that they were developing a film adaptation of the musical.[44] In 2007, The Telegraph reported that actresses being considered for the role of Norma Desmond included Close, Paige, Meryl Streep, Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand.[45] In an interview in 2008, Andrew Lloyd Webber said that there are no plans for a film adaptation to be made in the near future, but he remains hopeful one will be made at some point. In 2011, Lloyd Webber indicated he would like Madonna to star in the film, though she wasn't taking his calls.[46] In December 2011, Andrew Lloyd Webber told The Daily Mail that he was considering filming a stage production of the show for cinema and DVD release featuring Glenn Close as Norma Desmond, but noted that the inherent costs in forming the production might hinder the project's viability.[47]

Proposed film project

The South African production of Sunset Boulevard, starring Angela Kilian[42] as Norma Desmond & Jonathan Roxmouth[43] as Joe Gillis, was shown at the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino in Johannesburg from late August 2013 to mid October 2013 and at Theatre On The Bay in Cape Town from late October 2013 until early January 2014. In 2014, the Short North Stage theatre company performed Sunset Boulevard on October 2–19 at the Garden Theatre, Columbus, Ohio.

The Pittsburgh CLO staged a new production in July 2012 starring Liz Callaway as Norma Desmond.[41] Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick, ME, staged a production for their 2012 Summer Season starring Denise Whelan as Norma Desmond and Gregg Goodbrod as Joe Gillis. The cast was reduced to 10 and the script was slimmed down to focus on Norma and the people closest to her.

The Barn Theatre in Augusta, Michigan, staged a production starring four-time Emmy-winning soap star Kim Zimmer from 23 August to 4 September 2011. The show was directed by Hans Friedrichs, with music direction by John Jay Espino.

The Music Theatre of Wichita staged a production from 6 to 10 July 2011, using a 27-piece orchestra. The show was directed by Mark Madama and starred Ann Morrison as Norma Desmond, Chris Peluso as Joe Gillis, Nicolas F. Saverine as Max Mayerling and Kaleigh Cronin as Betty Schaefer.


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