Ends Jun 25

Sunset Boulevard

Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing, Great singing, Must see
74 reviews
782 reviews

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. 

... Read more

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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Reviews (856)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

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


“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


"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

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


"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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

Theater In The Now

"The staging by Lonny Price is sensational...Price and his team insured that the brilliant orchestra was a centerpiece of this production...Close gives a master class in performance as the maddened fading star. Mystifying is an understatement...It's easy to get lost with everything that this production brings but Michael Xavier was an incredible leading man...Between Glenn Close and the breathtaking orchestra, you'll never want to say goodbye to this perfect production." 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

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


"There is something fitting, even satisfying about this less elaborate, modest incarnation...Close is just as daring but less campy and even more touching as the aging movie queen...Almost as important is the casting of Xavier, the first Joe I’ve seen to capture William Holden’s attractive, increasingly corrupted nonchalance of Norma’s boy toy...The show is a limited edition selling paste and glitter as treasures. As long as we know what we’re getting, however, costume jewelry can be fun." Full Review

The Wrap

"Close gives a bravura performance: funny, over-the-top, ridiculous. The only vulnerability Close brings to the role, however, is her singing voice...Unfortunately, Price’s direction doesn’t solve the show’s many problems...Lloyd Webber’s opening four songs emerge as tuneless recitative with flat lyrics by book writers Don Black and Christopher Hampton, who completely muddle the story." 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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Great acting, Intense, Entertaining

See it if You don't want to miss Glenn Close as Norma D. That's why I went and she did not disappoint. Orchestra on stage and movie era images added.

Don't see it if You can't handle AL Webber musical. No humming of tunes after except for haunting taunt of sunset boulevard, sunset boulevard....

Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a powerhouse performance by Glenn Close. She is fantastic and really moved me with her performance. Set so so.

Don't see it if you don't like a powerful orchestra.This orchestra takes center stage and really drives the drama.


See it if you want to be in the presence of greatness:Glenn Close is spellbinding,heartbreaking,and captivating.Best performance ever!Don't miss it!

Don't see it if .....just see it!

Also The orchestra in the middle of the stage was a brilliant touch. The mu... Read more Read less

Imperfect production, Perfect glenn

See it if you don't want to miss an absolutely sensational performce by Glenn Close.

Don't see it if ???????

Great acting, Overrated, Entertaining, Fluffy, A star vehicle for glenn close

See it if You want to see Glenn Close in her iconic, Broadway role. You want to see her act the @#!$%! out of the role.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of Glenn Close and/or want to hear her songs sung w/more technique & beauty. You want great ALW: this isn't his best.

Ambitious, Intense, Romantic, Indulgent, Entertaining

See it if You want to see one of the best performances of the 21st Century: Glenn Close as Norma Desmond. Also, Michael Xavier is gorgeous.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of insipid lyrics.

Great acting, Dated, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you love great music and strong performances. Add points for Glenn Close and Andrew Lloyd Weber fans.👍👍

Don't see it if you are looking for exquisite, elegant scenery. Different take, this time, very sparse sets. Interesting staging.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Slow, Fluffy

See it if You haven't seen Glenn Close in this role. You like ALW music. You love Hollywood/films.

Don't see it if Don't enjoy ALW music. Don't enjoy concert productions. Want a fast-paced or new story.

Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if honestly, the 40 piece orchestra on stage was worth the price of admission. You just don't get that at B'way shows anymore.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of ALW music. Sweeping style with earworm songs.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Great singing

See it if Youve never seen it before

Don't see it if You want a light, fluffy, feel good show

Great acting, Slow

See it if You want to see some great acting and an interesting story (if you're one of the few that doesn't already know it).

Don't see it if You're looking for a show that's better paced and doesn't drag so much in the middle or if you want a more memorable score.

Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you loved the original production. Love anything Andrew Lloyd Webber. See it just for the Tour De Force by Glenn Close! She was INCREDIBLE!

Don't see it if You absolutely hate old hollywood era based musicals. Hate Lloyd Webber or Glenn Close.

If you saw the 1994 broadway production, skip seeing this revival. we will thank me later!!!

See it if enjoy being DISAPPOINTED by a revival of this musical that should have NEVER headlined an actress not known to be a singing diva.

Don't see it if you saw the original 1994 Broadway production staring either Betty Buckley or Elaine Paige.

Also On May 3rd, I let my curiosity get the best of me and purchased a RUSH... Read more Read less

Great acting, Romantic, Indulgent, Cliched, Slow

See it if you want to see a great performance from Glenn Close.

Don't see it if you aren't a fan of Webber musicals. It's just as cliche as all the others.

Enchanting, Great acting, Slow, Dated, Entertaining

See it if want to see Glenn Close be magical

Don't see it if want a lavish set and you don't like Andrew Lloyd Weber

Unimaginative, badly staged, weak male lead and very weak glenn close

See it if You want to be able to say you saw it. You dont mind a literal translation of a camp classic, weak music, static staging and a lot of stairs

Don't see it if you want to hear music sung if not with power at least on pitch. You like good dialog.

Also Barnum, SIngular Life of Albert Nobbs, The Real Thing Ms Close shone. ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Epic, Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You love lush full music based on a classic piece. You wish to see an epic star turn.

Don't see it if If you don't like melodramatic stories set in a previous day or based on a film.

Enchanting, Great acting, Dated, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to see Glenn Close be amazingly Glenn Close. Or you enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.

Don't see it if you want to see a story with multiple compelling characters.

Entertaining, Great staging, Worthwhile, Involving, Stripped down

See it if you want to catch Glenn Close's triumphant return to her Tony-winning Norma Desmond. I'm not a particular fan of hers; this made me one.

Don't see it if you need Norma's big numbers performed by an actual Broadway singer, though Close's lesser vocals effectively relate Norma's prime is past.

Intense, Thought-provoking, Romantic, Slow, Entertaining

See it if Nice performance by Glen Close. Some nice music.

Don't see it if Nice performance by Glen Close. Some nice music.

Great acting, Must see, Riveting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want a close-up of Glenn Close at her luminous best. Her Norma Desmond is indeed a creature from another age, wounded and vulnerable.

Don't see it if aren't open to a less splashy and lavish version of this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and a more concert-style staging.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting

See it if you want to see glenn close

Don't see it if you want to see a great musical

Dizzying, Edgy, Intense, Excruciating, Dated

See it if You love Glenn Close, are a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber, enjoy incredibly glitzy and flashy costuming

Don't see it if You dislike Andrew Lloyd Webber, expect Glenn Close to be just as good as she was twenty years ago (though she's fantastic for her age)

Delightful, Epic, Great acting, Great singing, Outstanding

See it if you want to see the very definition of what Broadway should be

Don't see it if you want to miss Glenn Close's absolutely amazing performance as well as the great performances of the entire cast

Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a master in her element in a role she owns

Don't see it if You want to her big belting songs and a happy story