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. 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.
"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 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
"It’s been a while since Broadway has had a bona fide, pull-out-the-stops star performance, but Glenn Close’s return as Norma Desmond is all that and more…It’s a leaner production, musically enhanced and guaranteed to make you surrender! The voice is huskier now, but every bit as powerful…The minimalist staging allows for a sharper focus…Her co-stars are equally winning…Close is delivering one of those ‘must-see’ performances that come around every decade or so." Full Review
"In her latest incarnation, Norma Desmond is totally heart-breaking...Glenn Close is delivering a complex portrait that is as tender as it is thrilling...This, along with the scaled-down grandeur and melodramatic fervour of director Lonny Price’s imaginative production, makes this revival an event of the first magnitude...Furthermore, Lloyd Webber’s score soars to formidable heights with a 40-piece orchestra prominently placed on stage, heightening both the show’s shifting moods and musicality." Full Review
"As Close portrays her, she is a universal character, embittered by her faded glory to the point of being delusional...Deftly directed by Lonny Price...This is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s more beautiful scores, in my opinion...Xavier is a dashing tenor, and here he definitely wins the bathing suit contest. Siobhan Dillon, making her Broadway debut as the young woman who catches Joe’s eye, comes as a welcome relief to the vamps of old. But, Glenn Close is in a class of her own." Full Review
“An overwhelming bravura performance…Extraordinary Glenn Close found the award-winning role of a lifetime twenty years ago as a great, mad silent film star, Norma Desmond, and has brought it back to Broadway, greater, madder, more wonderful than ever, richer in every detail. If you love theatre, you owe it to yourself to experience this once-in-a-lifetime triumph. You’ll talk about it forever…Webber's music only comes to greatness when its star sings and acts to the fullest." Full Review
"Glenn Close blew us away some 23 years ago in the role of Norma Desmond and she wows us once again in one of my favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber shows...This pared-down revival...doesn’t have the monstrous sets and the big sweeping stairway which, frankly, I was hoping to see once again, but it does have a fabulous concert-style big orchestra behind an excellent cast...You must make sure you see 'Sunset Boulevard' if only to see a sensational Glenn Close." Full Review
"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 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
"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
"The production cuts back on the gargantuan sets, but in doing so it restores the essence of the story which is that everything should rely on Norma’s face. And what a face! Close easily morphs into whatever the situation calls for...What’s truly remarkable about her work here is she is able to communicate a myriad of emotions without the aid of closeups, her singing, her body language, and the larger than life expressions force us to zoom into her, as if we almost didn’t have a choice." Full Review
"Close is totally centered and zeroed-in on the script and score…She is even better now that she was in 1994…Close was 47 when she debuted the show on Broadway, which means that 70 is now not far away. And yet, that makes Norma’s need that much greater…The Greatest Orchestra on Broadway embellished with symphony-level sound ‘The Greatest Star of All’ and all the other potent Lloyd Webber-Black-Hampton songs." Full Review
"Close acknowledges the decades of high camp baked into Desmond’s glittery delusions. But even as she plays them for laughs, she digs for the pathos too. Whether mourning her dead pet chimpanzee, begging her recalcitrant lover not to leave, or drawing out the money notes from Lloyd Weber’s lavish score, she takes care to keep her hands cupped around the tender flame of humanity that still flickers somewhere beneath all the brittle melodrama." 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
"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
“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
"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
"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
"Close is sensational in the role on many counts and deserves every bit of the prolonged ovations she is getting...Lonny Price as director knows exactly how to showcase her...The strong, pulsating score adds intensity, but I have to say that I find the sing-song rhythm and tonality of dialogue in various recitative passages annoying. But that is a quibble. This is a hugely entertaining musical and a chance to enjoy the artistry of Glenn Close at the height of her stage power." Full Review
"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
"Director Lonny Price has come up with a daring new production concept...Andrew Lloyd Webber has given her lush melodies, and Don Black’s and Christopher Hampton’s lyrics rise to the occasion whenever she bursts into song...Close gives an epic performance from start to finish, and reminds us just how powerful such great work can be...The story of 'Sunset Boulevard' is solid, but its supporting characters are not written with the same perception and depth of its leading lady." Full Review
"The material, it turns out, is pretty sturdy. And with a more seasoned Glenn Close bringing new nuance to her interpretation of Norma, it offers ample spectacle of a different kind: the spectacle of unhinged megalomania and vanity. Better yet, it offers the biggest orchestra on Broadway...Lloyd Webber really did himself proud with this one...Close plays these big moments, and all of Norma’s many others, with an intelligence and imagination rare among divas." Full Review
"Despite Close's tour-de-force performance, director Lonny Price's skilled direction keeps the other performances from being lost in the sweep of one of Norma's many flowing, glittering outfits...The score sounds fabulous thanks to the huge 40-piece orchestra which takes up the rear of the stage...While Close's performance is stunning, her singing voice is less than optimal, especially in the higher ranges." Full Review
"Trimmed, scaled down and economically revitalized by director Lonny Price, the old opulence stripped of its glamour...It is clear from her first entrance down that treacherous staircase looking like a drag queen who owns the stage...The magic Close conjures of the brevity of fame is as rare on the proscenium stage today as that 40-piece orchestra. Her experience, knowledge and craft prove that 'Sunset Boulevard' is an old warhorse that can still finish the race in first place." Full Review
"Aside from the enormous orchestra—and perhaps a bulbous chandelier that makes the one from 'Phantom' seem like a toddler’s night light—there’s little here to distract from Close’s mesmerizing Norma, or Lloyd Webber’s pop friendly score...Michael Xavier stands out as writer Joe Gillis...The musical is over the top, and we remain head over heels for Close’s so-very-delicate Norma Desmond." Full Review
See it if you want to see a master class in musical theatre - even in the back row, you can see every arch of the brow - Glenn Close is stunning
Don't see it if you don't appreciate brilliance
See it if You enjoy a show driven by romantic pursuit, that explores the thin line between love and hate.
Don't see it if You only enjoy a feel-good show because if you're looking for that, this show may not deliver your ideal ending.
See it if you want to see Glenn Close in a showstopping performance. Her two major numbers brought tears to my eyes they were so moving
Don't see it if you are dead; wait, see it anyway
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
See it if You want to see the finest musical theatre playing in NY now ! You saw Glenn Close in her last turn as Norma Desmond, she has grown !
Don't see it if No reason not to see unless you don't care for classic musicals ! This one is as perfect as the genre can possibly be !
See it if you're a theater fan (ALW or not) you'll love this show. Glenn Close is amazing (voice is okay, acting is outstanding), great costumes
Don't see it if you're not interested in going to a show in the heart of TS surrounded by out-of-towners - some who don't even know how this show ends!
See it if You are an ALW junkie, you adore Glenn Close...or are simply drawn to gorgeous scores, huge orchestras, and awe-inspiring vocalists.
Don't see it if You dislike ALW, only enjoy "happy" shows, or are a child. (I'd put this one at high-school age and older.)
See it if You enjoy ALW shows or shows about the golden age of Hollywood - fans of things like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane
Don't see it if You want something modern, you don't like minimal stagings that focus on performances.
See it if you are a lover of classic, long time oldies-but-goodies and desire to witness Glenn Close "in action" at her finest!
Don't see it if you are looking for light and fluffy and really don't know anything about the time period this takes place in.
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