New in 2017 Three-time Tony winner Glenn Close stars as faded film star Norma Desmond who recruits a young writer to help relaunch her career in a revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation.
From the producers: In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world,” according to press notes. “Impoverished screen writer, Joe Gillis, on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her reclusive world. Persuaded to work on Norma’s ‘masterpiece’, a film script that she believes will put her back in front of the cameras, he is seduced by her and her luxurious life-style. Joe becomes entrapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free with dramatic consequences.
Based on the 1950 film of the same name and featuring a score by Lloyd Webber, "Sunset Boulevard" premiered in the West End in 1993, starring Patti LuPone. In a widely publicized upset that resulted in an out-of-court settlement, Close brought the role to Broadway the following year. The production garnered seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. The recent English National Opera revival was nominated for two Evening Standard Awards, including "Best Musical" and a "Best Musical Performance" nod for Close.
Glenn Close was last seen on Broadway in 2014's "A Delicate Balance." The six-time Oscar nominee and three-time Emmy winner got her start on the Great White Way, and also won the Tony for her work in "The Real Thing" and "Death and the Maiden." Her plethora of film and TV credits include "Albert Nobbs," "Dangerous Liaisons," "Air Force One," "Fatal Attraction" and "Damages."
Close delivers a subtle, nuanced performance well suited to a production dramatically scaled down from the original. The lush orchestrations do ample justice to the beauty of Lloyd Webber's score. The book is largely faithful to the film, although its lack of nuance sometimes gives the musical an excessively campy feel that thankfully is now lessened.
AM New York
The revival makes a strong case for Lloyd Webber's music (an uneven but bold mix of sweeping romantic melodies, jazz and underscoring) and Black and Hampton's book (which strictly follows the fast-paced original narrative), if not their prosaic lyrics. Despite some obvious vocal difficulties, Close once again gives a fully invested, psychologically revealing performance.