Based on Billy Wilder's Academy Award-winning 1950 film, Sunset Boulevard boasts a book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton and music by Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber. The title refers to the fabled Los Angeles street, on which is a decaying mansion where Norma Desmond, a faded star of the silent screen era, lives in her own past. 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.
According to the reviewer of this production, the show “requires two actors in the main roles who can bring out their bittersweet relationship and all the emotions that it evokes” and they were delighted to say that “TWODS took on this challenge head on and achieved it stupendously”. Lorraine Fawcett gave a performance as Norma that was described as “outstanding” and “faultless” whilst Jamie Thomas was “superb as Joe Gillis”. The two leads were not without support, however, and the “many smaller parts gave excellence in both singing and acting while the chorus were animated and slickly professional with their moves”. In particular, Sophia Wallace drew praise for her portrayal of Betty whilst Michael Jamieson-Smith gave what was “also an outstanding performance, both acted and sung” as Norma’s ex-husband, turned butler, Max.
Director Helen Thorpe used black-and-white film clips to give great authenticity to crucial points of the story and the countless scene changes, “seamlessly achieved”, also made this stage show very evocative of classic Hollywood movies.