This story of love and obsession, set in tinsel town during late 1949/50, is based on Billy Wilder’s film noir, book and lyrics from Don Black and Christopher Hampton plus music by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The wonderful score, including The Perfect Year, Sunset Boulevard and The Greatest Star of All – all performed live by the orchestra (directed by Adrian Kirk).
In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, forgotten silent-screen star Norma Desmond (Ria Jones) lives in a lonely fantasy world. Struggling screenwriter, Joe Gillis (Dougie Carter), on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her faded film set like world.
Persuaded to work on a script, Joe becomes entrapped in her world until his love for another woman leads him to break free, but with dramatic consequences.
With outstanding vocals and powerful stage presence, Ria Jones stole the stage as leading lady Norma. Dougie Carter (standing in for a poorly Danny Mac – cue wave of disappointment!) gave a strong and impressive performance as Joe Gillis. Molly Lynch gave a good performance with a beautiful voice, as young and spritely Betty Schaefer.
Despite my love of musicals and being a Lloyd-Webber fan, unfortunately, I wasn’t fully taken with this show. I couldn’t help feeling act one contained lengthy scenes and with the absence of dialogue, the songs became too much. However, this was turned around when act two delivered the drama and suspense the show needed and our story comes to a climactic close.
A good production and talented cast, hence the 4**** but the overall production wasn’t quite up to scratch; one visit to Sunset Boulevard is enough for me.
Director – Nikolai Foster
Ipswich Regent Theatre – performances daily until Saturday 10th March.
Box Office – 01473 433100
Touring the UK at various theatres.
Reviewer – Dawn Maidstone https://theatrethoughtsbydawn.wordpress.com