Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing, Absorbing, Must see

About the show

Three-time Tony Award-winner Glenn Close returns to Broadway in her most iconic role, Norma Desmond, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony-winning musical. 

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When impoverished screenwriter Joe Gillis stumbles into the reclusive world of faded silent-screen goddess Norma Desmond, she sees the opportunity to make a comeback and rise to her former glory. He is seduced by the actress and her luxurious lifestyle, but the entanglement between the pair has dramatic and tragic consequences. Based on Billy Wilder’s classic Academy Award-nominated film, 'Sunset Boulevard' is a compelling story of romance and obsession. Direct from a sold-out engagement at the English National Opera, this lavish production features a 40-piece orchestra.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"It is a show that exists almost entirely to let its star blaze to her heart’s content. The light she casts is so dazzling, this seems an entirely sufficient reason to be...What was one of the great stage performances of the 20th century has been reinvented, in terms both larger and more intimate, that may well guarantee its status as one the great stage performances of this century, too...The musical, on the other hand, seems and sounds thin, despite the velveteen lushness of its orchestra." Full Review


"Glenn Close makes a triumphant return to the star role of Norma Desmond...Some roles you really have to grow into, and Close claims diva status this time around...Lloyd Webber’s luscious music (burdened by clunky lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton) is performed by a huge on-stage orchestra that lives by its strings...Close delivers a genuine show-stopper in 'As If We Never Said Goodbye'...If you want to see grown men weeping in the aisles, this is your moment." Full Review


“Watching Glenn Close completely enthrall and mesmerize an audience with her two dramatic solos is a reminder that musical theatre is at its most thrilling when musical moments are enhanced by incisive acting…Her expertise helps overcome the flawed material…Webber's music effectively imitates the splendor of classic film soundtracks…Black and Hampton's lyrics, however, rarely rise above perfunctory imagery and rhyming…Close is the reason to rush to the Palace these days." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Those who go to see Close reprise her celebrated turn in the musical’s 1994 Broadway production will not be disappointed...Close holds the stage with a feverish intensity that transcends camp...If only she could be in every scene! For the rest of 'Sunset Boulevard,' adapted from Billy Wilder’s timeless 1950 film, is mostly a languorous slog...This is second-rate Lloyd Webber: filler songs that loop and repeat exhaustingly, set to lyrics that often clunk." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Close delivers a more 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 by Christopher Hampton and Don Black is largely faithful to the film, although its lack of nuance sometimes gives the musical an excessively campy feel that thankfully is now lessened...Ultimately, it’s Close’s return that is this revival’s reason for being." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"A train wreck of a revival starring a woeful Close...At every opportunity Hampton and Black take material that kept its balance at the edge of camp and shoves its way over the line...The current revival, in attempting to emphasize the show’s musical strengths, only exposes the nonmusical elements to further criticism...It pains me to say that Close's second outing as Norma is no triumph...Her new interpretation of Norma—a mite more playful and less otherworldly—actually makes things worse." Full Review


"Close delivers as if no time has gone by at all. Joined by a 40-piece orchestra, we're privileged to witness theater history in the making...Price's discombobulating staging, which often features his actors running up and down the Escher stairs to nowhere, doesn't really achieve a feeling of intimacy...All bets are off when Close hits the stage...It's not cliché to say that we can hear a pin drop during each number as she commands the spotlight in triumph." Full Review

New Yorker

"Webber doesn’t write music that one can sing without 'soaring'...I never really warmed to the movie that the musical is based on, just as I haven’t warmed to the musical: its atmosphere is at once messy and banal; its relentless pop façade and the constant drama of its music preclude intimacy and distance us from feeling, while encouraging a kind of aggressive contempt. None of the characters are truly big, let alone human, even as they play big." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Close's singing has deteriorated significantly...In a way, this works to her advantage, making all the more poignant Norma's stab at regaining her youthful glory, but I wished for more...Lonny Price hasn't been able to rein in certain of his star's occasional excesses...The songs are a random series of hits and misses...'Sunset Boulevard' isn't a great musical, but it's a pretty good vehicle, at least if the right star is on hand. Close's performance is sufficiently titanic to justify this l... Full Review

Theater Life

"Not only has Close deepened her interpretation, but Lonny Price’s new staging is an imaginative stripped-down retake of Trevor Nunn’s gargantuan 1994 edition. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s synthetic score and the simplistic book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton still fail to approach the noir nightmare vision of Hollywood created in Billy Wilder’s legendary 1950 film. But with Price’s more intimate staging, Close’s magnificent performance is even more striking." Full Review

New York Theater

"'Sunset Boulevard' is ersatz opera of the outsized and mostly overwrought kind that Broadway audiences have been eating up, on and off, since the 1980s. It’s noteworthy, then, that this production cast Glenn Close, whose voice is, to put it politely, far from operatic. Her power resides in her acting; her Norma manages, at its best, to be both steely and vulnerable, sinking into herself and dominating everything and everyone. Most of the other cast members hardly register by comparison." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Price's staging, in a fatal mistake, fails to capture the darkness, being surprisingly upbeat, and with only scattered moments of the needed gothic anxiety demanded by the story...Close's...pitchy singing voice is not Broadway's best, but her acting is strong enough, even within the deliberately broad, almost grotesque, theatricality she adopts to jerk tears when she launches into 'With One Look.' But the emphasis on her exaggerations takes the show too far from its deeper implications." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"Ms. Close’s performance, by turns adamantine and childishly needy, is as memorable in its own way as was that of Gloria Swanson in the movie. No, the fundamental problem with turning 'Sunset Boulevard' into a musical is that it is perfect...The truth is that 'Sunset Boulevard' doesn’t need songs, or anything else that it doesn’t already have in abundance. Saving Ms. Close’s presence, to change anything at all is necessarily to diminish the film’s overwhelming effect." Full Review

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 Don Black and Christopher Hampton’s book, if not their prosaic lyrics...Despite some obvious vocal difficulties, Close once again gives a fully invested, psychologically revealing performance...Michael Xavier has a strapping presence and a pleasing rock tenor voice, but he gives a shallow performance that downplays Gillis’ self-loathing." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Frequently Close’s unsure of her pitch...As this 'Sunset Boulevard' marches along, it’s clear that Close is on hand for the acting and for striding effectively about in the flowing robes and turbans...The whole script is credulity strained....What this 'Sunset Boulevard' does have in its favor is what it always had: the score. It’s enhanced immeasurably by one of the largest Broadway orchestras in years...The supporting players all possess musical and acting ability beyond the call of duty." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Glenn Close is this generation’s Shirley Jones...She has mastered the art of bringing controlled madness to her method. Of all the big names attached to this production, the most important is Billy Wilder. The 1950 film which he co-wrote and directed is so chock full of bullet-proof source material, it is impossible not to be entertained by any decent adaptation...Mr. Johanson is fabulous as Max, with his deep voice miraculously ranging into falsetto territory." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Glenn Close makes it look effortless...The songs work together flawlessly, setting up the thesis and then proving it, all the while Close bewitching you as surely as Norma does her cherished 'people in the dark'...Whether 'Sunset Boulevard' is everything a musical is supposed to be is another matter. It plays very well, though in most part because it follows Wilder's prescriptions (and dialogue) closely...Price's attempts at taming this beast are valiant and largely successful." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"You could argue that 'Sunset' is a commentary on women in Hollywood — but Hampton and Lloyd Webber never really followed Wilder there. And Price is not about to take that on here either, any more than he is about to cast anybody who might pull too much focus from the star...What makes this performance work is Close's palpable vulnerability...It's a very tart and terrifying performance at the core of one of the more lush, sentimental and absurd musicals of the 20th century." Full Review

New York Daily News

"If a few vocals are strained, Close commands the stage in this concert production from the English National Opera. That goes double during 'As If We Never Said Goodbye'...The song is beautiful. The visual is stirring. The 40-piece on-stage orchestra soars, as does Close. The moment is as good as musical theater gets. Otherwise the musical is a mixed bag with choppy tonal shifts. Director Lonny Price can’t fix that. But he has assembled a fine cast." Full Review


"Close brings an added vulnerability that would be maudlin if it weren’t so fragile-seeming...This company is spectacularly well cast...There are a couple of good songs and one great number in the show...The book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black pay homage to the film’s celebrated lines and have their smart-ish moments. There are some deeply silly passages...Still, the show holds together and Close is every ounce the star she is playing." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"The score, by Andrew Lloyd Webber is lush and gorgeous for the most part...The orchestra’s work is both glorious and rich, like an old-fashioned musical should sound. The downside is that at times the orchestra placement distracts from the very personal story that is being told on stage...When the show is attached to Close and her Norma, 'Sunset Boulevard' works, but without that star power, it shrivels down to a very pedestrian tale that doesn’t have the power to intoxicate." Full Review


“Glenn Close is better than ever…This revival may be more Encores style concert than the ornately staged original, but it's big in all the right ways…This is Andrew Lloyd Webber's best and richest score. Instead of one much reprised ear-clinger, he's written several show-stoppers…All this is not to say that Close's Norma, though touchingly vulnerable and doesn't make for a story that's overly melodramatic, incredible and old-fashioned." Full Review


"Glenn Close triumphs again in this inventively scaled down and hugely entertaining revival...Ms. Close is still sleek, fearless and riveting...Embracing the role’s campiness, yet being totally realistic, Close gives one of those monumental performances of musical theater history. This is no mere star showcase, as the rest of the cast is of comparable caliber...Besides being a victory for Ms. Close and Mr. Price, this revival is also one for Mr. Lloyd Webber" Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"Although her voice sounded a bit pinched at times, her Norma Desmond is one for the ages. She is joined by a fine supporting cast...Instead of lavish sets, we get a 40-piece orchestra onstage. Unfortunately, the larger orchestra does not improve the quality of the music...If you love the film and are a fan of Glenn Close, you will have a good time. If you do not appreciate Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music, you might not." Full Review


"Vocal challenges notwithstanding, there is not a moment Close is on stage that is not pure gold. And when she's off, all you can do is await her return. It's a good thing, too, because as a musical, 'Sunset Boulevard' has little reason to exist. This is not one of Mr. Lloyd Webber's stronger scores, lacking the cohesiveness of 'Evita,' say...Lonny Price directs the enterprise the way Norma would want to be directed by Cecil B. DeMille, with her at the center of the universe." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Epic, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Excruciating, Slow

See it if a few bits of music that are rapturous will be enough for you to sit through an often boringly told story.

Don't see it if you only like first rate lyric writing.

Funny, Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if First I love the movie, but this is different for singing. Part of old charm, and classy. Days of old Hollywood.

Don't see it if Singing, some time slow, want to see bright lights and alot of active.

Enchanting, Indulgent, Overrated, Dated, Great singing

See it if you're a fan of the musical.

Don't see it if you expected a rejuvenated revival. This was a stripped-down remounting, at best.

Ambitious, Enchanting, Exquisite, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You don't want to miss wonderful must-see classic stage production. Glenn Close nails it with her exquisite performance.

Don't see it if No reason not to see it.

Ambitious, Masterful, Confusing, Slow, Dated

See it if You love Glenn Close and this show

Don't see it if You want a new take on a piece of historic theater

Delightful, Great acting, Must see, Indulgent, Entertaining

See it if you want to see Glenn Close's riveting portrayal in this classic musical

Don't see it if you are not a fan of classic golden age movies

Absorbing, Epic, Intense, Riveting, Insipid

See it if *Glenn was Very sick (voice gone)* That being said, the production was polished, and very grand. Her acting was very good, but too much camp

Don't see it if you don't like "concert" stagings. Or you don't like ALW. The score is sweeping, but also has some stinkers (like most of his work).

Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great writing, Great singing

See it if you want to see Glenn Close's masterpiece.

Don't see it if for me everything was worth it.

Also It is an unforgettable experience. Mysterious, magical. With classic s... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intense, Great singing

See it if you want to see Glenn Close put on the performance of a life time. It should not be missed.

Don't see it if you are not there to see Glenn Close. The show is good but not one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's best.

Dizzying, Great acting, Indulgent, Overrated, Dated

See it if You want to see Glenn Close do as little as possible to get a standing ovation. You like Weber.

Don't see it if You prefer stronger scores and books. This play is over-indulgent, poorly written, and an insult to Billy Wilder and the original film.

Slow, Entertaining, Great performances, Overwrought, Powerful moments

See it if to see GC do her thing, you're interested in a version of the show featuring a older woman played by an older actress, are a big ALW fan.

Don't see it if you want a snappy show with mind-blowing production elements, you want more than one memorable song, something contemporary

Also The magic of live theatre - got to see Glenn Close stop the show to te... Read more Read less

Epic, Indulgent, Entertaining, Over-the-top

See it if to see Glenn Close as Norma Desmond in a fabulous over-the-top Diva performance. You want some cheesy classic old timey Hollywood story.

Don't see it if you dislike Andrew Lloyd Webber, or you dislike over-the-top cheese.

Also It's ALW so you have to take it for what it is, but I've always had a ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you adore Glenn Close, who is amazing; if you enjoy dramatic musicals; if you enjoy period stories.

Don't see it if you're expecting a light evening of theater.

Indulgent, Cliched, Slow, Fluffy

See it if You love the classics and don't mind the repetitive andrew lloyd webber tropes of an abusive relationship pretending to be love

Don't see it if You enjoy an original and well-directed piece that didn't rely on the show's fanbase and star power. Really slow and hard to sit through

Must see, Dated, Powerful orchestrations

See it if you want to see a star vehicle for Glenn Close and you are able to afford tickets close enough to fully experience her performance.

Don't see it if you want the grandeur of the original, you are not a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Masterful, Profound

See it if You enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber's writing, enjoy Glenn Close's acting, would like to see an intense plot.

Don't see it if You are seeking an upbeat, "party" musical.

Dizzying, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Great singing

See it if you want to see a diva shine

Don't see it if you're allergic to ALW - this feels classic "him" all the way

Absorbing, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if Glenn Close is simply amazing as Norma Desmond! That is it in a nutshell. Not a fan of this score, except for 2 songs.

Don't see it if You don't like nostalgic musicals

Also . This lower down scales Sunset entertaining due to Glenn Close! Saw t... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You are a Glenn Close fan, because there is no other real reason.

Don't see it if Mezz. seating has a sound mix problem that has the orchestra drown out the singing, which is most of the show...

Great acting, Intense, Resonant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like the music, or want to see some really great British import performers, and of course, Glenn Close

Don't see it if you don't like Andrew Lloyd Webber music

Great acting, Great singing, I would have given this a higher score but my view was obstructed many many times (don't buy tix house left/odd numbers), Dead body hangs in from of curtain for most of show & no one thought to cover it up?, Glenn close is 70 yrs old, may be last chance to see her on a bdwy stage?

See it if This is a BIG show & it more than fills up the Palace stage. Glenn Close was in perfect form last night going into the final wknd. C IT NOW

Don't see it if Skip if U don't like old-fashioned musicals w/ a car onstage. Seen the movie? U haven't seen anything, but if U hated the movie U mite pass?

Great acting, Entertaining

See it if wish to hear a lush orchestra or missed Glenn Close the first time around

Don't see it if want great singing or varied music (there are only like two music themes throughout)

Indulgent, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow, Dated

See it if you're a Glenn Close fan; if you want to see a show that's more like "Sunset Boulevard In Concert"; the staging is pretty terrible.

Don't see it if you're expecting a sumptuous set (this one is so bare); if you want to see a new, fresh musical (this one's a dinosaur).

Delightful, Enchanting, Great acting, Masterful, Great singing

See it if you enjoyed the original and want to see Miss Close sing even better than before

Don't see it if you want to see full sets and lavish costuming

Also I loved the original. Glenn Close made this show even better when she ... Read more Read less

Overrated, Dated, Entertaining, Great costumes, Clever lighting

See it if You like big budget musicals with full orchestras. The use of flashlights as car headlights was very clever.

Don't see it if You want to hear great singing.

Cast & Creatives (38)