Ends Jun 25

Sunset Boulevard

Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing, Great singing, Must see
71 reviews
295 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 (366)

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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


"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


“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


"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

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 are a few times when Close skirts the edge of parody...But, taken as a whole, it’s an assured, commanding performance by an actress who knows how to deliver the theatrical goods...A dynamic, imaginatively rethought presentation by director Lonny Price...The show’s main problem, although not a disqualifying one, is the pedestrian book...However, Close’s panache and Lloyd Webber’s music are more than enough to carry the evening." 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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Riveting

See it if You like Glenn Close. She is fabulous. Over the top but meant to be. Great costumes. A memorable performance and evening.

Don't see it if You dislike minimal staging although it is effective in this production. If you want big dancing loud musical, go to Dolly.

Beautiful, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging, Brilliant orchestra

See it if you want to see Glenn Close own a stage, like or love the original film, enjoy a large orchestra playing lush music, or enjoy opulence.

Don't see it if you dislike Webber's overuse of repeated motifs in musicals, don't like shows that are almost entirely sung through, or want big set pieces.

Also Be warned, if you see a 7:00pm show (like I did) there is a ton of lat... Read more Read less

Delightful, Must see, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you want to Glenn Close nail this role, even 25 years after originating it. Supporting cast is equally incredible. Loved it!

Don't see it if you want the opulence of the original. The stripped down version is simpler, but it allow the performances to shine through.

Also Glenn Close as Norma Desmond is the perfect marriage of actress and ro... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Moving, Entertaining

See it if for Glenn Close's moving performance as Norma - audience riveted every time she was on; you are a A.L. Webber fan; you love unique staging

Don't see it if not a Webber or a Close fan, don't don't like dark plots even if offset by cheery musical numbers, don't like orch. on stage,

Also I personally would have liked to have seen the male lead a little more... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Epic, Great acting, Must see, Entertaining

See it if You want to be able to say you saw Glenn Close in Sunset Blvd... performances like those come around rarely. It's creepy and wierd, pure ALW

Don't see it if You want a consistently great score ("As If We Never Said Good-bye" is only standout), are irked when u can't make out words ("Sunset Blvd")

Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you are a fan of Glenn Close, she did an amazing job. The show could still stand on it's own, but she really made it pop.

Don't see it if you want a musical that will sweep you off your feet. It had some slow moments, but overall enjoyable show.

Absorbing, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining, Grand

See it if You want to experience a true star diva moment: Glenn Close's moment in the spotlight before "As If We Never Said Goodbye." Chills up spine.

Don't see it if You can't stand second tier Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.

Great acting, Indulgent, Slow

See it if you like Glenn Close. The orchestra is also great and onstage the whole time. So whenever I was bored it was nice to be able to watch them

Don't see it if you are looking for action. Not a lot happens and it's pretty slow...

Masterful, Must see, Riveting, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if You like Glen Close. She was a real diva to match her role. Spectacular. You like ALW.

Don't see it if You don't like ALW. But you should see it. Shows like this don't come around very often.

Also I had mixed feelings. Glen Close was spectacular. She was "ready for h... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated, Brilliant orchestra, Boring staging

See it if you are an ALW fan or love the score.40piece orchestra is worth the trip. Male lead is too young and perky.Needs more edge to be convincing.

Don't see it if you have a chance to see anything by Sondheim (Sweeney Todd at Barrow St is a gem).Score is good for ALW but echoes of Evita,Superstar, etc

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You love Glenn Close. Her acting was wonderful, but singing very uneven. One great song. I enjoyed the show, but inconsistent quality.

Don't see it if You want a lot of variety with the music or want to hear a beautiful voice from Ms. Close.

Dark, Entertaining, Better, Pared-down, Good-orchestration

See it if You love Glenn Close or Andrew Lloyd Webber. Better than the original , this reprieve simplifies and thereby magnifies the performances.

Don't see it if If you don't like the typical Lloyd-Webber repetitive songs or if you're going to be fussy about her singing. She's an amazing actor.

Great costumes, Great singing, Bravura performance, Orchestra was wonderful

See it if you want to see a fabulous performance by Glenn Close. She owns this. I liked this production more than the actual material.

Don't see it if you aren't a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber. This isn't his best work. See it for Glenn.

Enchanting, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Dated

See it if You like the show. You like Glenn close. You want to see her doing it even better twenty years later.

Don't see it if You're not familiar with the piece. This is definitely a revival for fans.

Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if If you love this show! Singing is great! The leads are great! If your a classical musical fan this is for you

Don't see it if If you don't like classic musicals or if you don't like musicals this isn't for you. Not for kids

Exquisite, Great acting, Profound, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if Um, Glenn Close. That's really enough. She's wonderful. But the show is great. Great use of set, strong cast, just a proper musical.

Don't see it if You really can't handle Webber. But I'm not really a fan and I was cool. You don't like the darkness of the story. You don't like projection

Also You will miss out if you don't see Ms. Close, seriously. She's got suc... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Intense, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You idolize Glenn Close. She is Norma Desmond; a theater icon whose performance elevates the show to new heights. Costumes are fabulous.

Don't see it if You don't like Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. Except for Glenn Close, the show is banal at its best. It's just a vehicle for "Norma Desmond."

Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want to see Glenn Close as Norma.

Don't see it if you're more concerned with the quality of the performance than the performer. Close isn't what she was 20 years ago.

Also I honestly did have a good time at this show. It's just that Close's N... Read more Read less

Great acting, Disappointing

See it if you're a fan of Close or Webber and didn't see the previous incarnation. Much imagination required to build the set.

Don't see it if you're not a fan of either or, I hear, if you saw the earlier incarnation (I didn't). Webber's music can wear you down.

Great acting

See it if You want to see a truly great performance of Norma Diamond. She played the same role 20 years ago. She is now the right age and splendid

Don't see it if You do not care to see another Lloyd Webber revival. There is nothing else to see here but Glenn Close.

Great acting, Indulgent

See it if you are a Glenn Close fan. I was fortunate enough to see her in the original. Her acting might be even stronger now. But the show had issues

Don't see it if You want to hear the show sung well. Close was passable vocally 20 years ago, but despite great acting, she doesn't have the vocal chops.

Also I loved the 40 piece orchestra, and if the producers chose the orchest... Read more Read less

Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging, Inventive set, Mediocre score

See it if you want to see a revival in which the production concept and the leading lady's enriched performance are an improvement over the original.

Don't see it if you revere the Billy Wilder movie and don't want to endure mediocre music and banal lyrics layered on top of it!

Great acting, Must see, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want to experience a fresh,unique staging of a classic. The beautiful score is enhanced by the 40 piece on stage orchestra. Cast soars!

Don't see it if You prefer prior versions of this classic which utilized the full stage and included the majestic,sweeping staircase.

Slow, Overrated, Indulgent, Epic, Disappointing

See it if You want to see Close's bravura performance (despite her singing) or have never seen this and want to give it a shot.

Don't see it if You didn't like it the first time around -- you'll probably like it even less this time. The biggest selling point is the full orchestra.

Great acting, Slow, Dated, Entertaining, Great music

See it if you missed it the first time around. Glenn Close seems to have aged into the role nicely. And the 40-piece orchestra sounds amazing.

Don't see it if you're looking for a complete production-- there are no set pieces here so the stage can get a bit boring to look at after a while.

Also The show moves slowly when Glenn Close isn't on stage. But when she is... Read more Read less