Ends Jun 25

Sunset Boulevard

Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing, Great singing, Must see
73 reviews
574 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 (647)

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

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 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

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


"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


“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

Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to witness Glenn Close absolutely shine in her reprise of this role that earned her a Tony.

Don't see it if you need material that matches its star.

Great acting, Must see, Indulgent, Overrated, Entertaining

See it if You'd like to see Glenn Close take advantage of a role that allows her to act her heart out in glittery clothes in front of a full orchestra

Don't see it if Tunes that always head up at the end of lines, above the singer's range. Dark staging where Close always visible but other parts not.

Great acting, Cliched, Dated

See it if You're a Glenn Close fan. If you want to trace treatment of women in Hollywood. Close rises above awkward staging and painful Gilles and GF.

Don't see it if You are offended by 1920-30s gender stereotyping. . If you're distracted by orchestra competing w actors. Ugh.

Disappointing, Overrated, Dated, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you are a Glenn Close/Sunset Blvd fan, the audience went wild each time Ms Close stepped on stage and she was wonderful, absolutely

Don't see it if Quite disappointing. Not the best of B'way voices, songs, or story lines, we didn't leave the theater singing, crying, laughing -- or caring

Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging, Glenn close is norma desmond

See it if Want to see Glenn Close reprise her role as Norma Desmond. Although the entire cast and orchestra were wonderful, Close owns the stage.

Don't see it if You like only original theater, do not like large-scale, old-fashioned musicals, or dislike having the orchestra on stage throughout.

Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want to see Glenn Close give an outstanding acting performance - not much of a singer. Great staging especially with orchestra on stage

Don't see it if you are not an major ALW fan or you are paying full price. Glenn Close was the only reason to see this show.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Intense, Must see, Riveting

See it if enchanting score with on-stage orchestra, engrossing story, staging that is beautiful in its relative simplicity

Don't see it if you shy away from dark or moody stories

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

See it if enjoy musicals. fan of Glenn want to see a great show. great staging great singing

Don't see it if you do not like musicals

Enchanting, Exquisite, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you are into Andrew Lloyd Webber and love classic musicals and old Hollywood stories.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in stories about old Hollywood and murder. Or if you can't watch stories about mental illness and fame.

Great acting, Profound, Overrated, Slow, Great singing

See it if You want to see a knock-out performance by Glenn Close and enjoy seeing a great leading man (Michael Xavier). If you are Hollywood obsessed.

Don't see it if You want memorable songs (this isn't Andrew Lyloyd Webber's Phantom), hated the movie or can't get behind having the orchestra being seen.

Also As other reviewers have said this is worth it to see Glenn Close and "... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Great singing

See it if you want to see Glenn Close give an epic performance, you want to hear a large orchestra on stage, you like mostly sung-thru shows

Don't see it if you don't like sung-thru shows, you don't like Lloyd Webber music, you prefer smaller cast shows with few large production values

Also Saw the original, and this revival definitely deserves the accolades i... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if you like romances

Don't see it if you don't like romances

Ambitious, Indulgent, Cliched, Overrated, Great singing

See it if You want to see Glenn Close in a stunning performance. She is Norma Desmond,everybody else is good not great. And no more chandeliers please

Don't see it if You think that Lloyd Webber's musicals are derivative and knock-offs of Italian operas. They are basically Puccini on steroids.

Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining, Fantastic orchestra, Overrated score

See it if you want to see an incredible performance by Glenn Close--she IS Norma Desmond on stage. Fantastic orchestration, entertaining story.

Don't see it if You're not in the mood for melodrama. Despite being beautifully composed the music can be slow and boring, but still worth seeing for Glenn.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Cliched

See it if you want to see how Glenn Close matured into the part. Her voice is more forgivable now that her age matches the part.

Don't see it if you don't like old black and white movie plots and dramas.

It's not close: glenn is the reason to see this in one of the great performances of this and any season

See it if you like AL Webber musicals lush melodies/40 piece orchest., operatic moments and characters (Close nails as Norma D), signature chandelier

Don't see it if you DON"T like AL Webber musicals simplistic lyrics, melodramatic plotting and here a cheesy chandelier in stripped down set

Overrated, Entertaining, Great orchestra!

See it if you're a big fan of Ms. Close or Sunset or if you want to hear this score played by the amazing 40 piece orchestra. Male leads are great.

Don't see it if you want to hear good singing from the lead. Ms. Close chews every bit of scenery with her acting, but her singing is at times painful

Intense, Must see, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you never saw glenn close the first time around. she doesn't disappoints!

Don't see it if you want a play.

Great acting, Must see, Full orchestra, better than the first

See it if You want to hear Glenn Close sing two show stoppers. Also if you like classic Andrew Lloyd Webber or the Billy Wilder movie.

Don't see it if For the supporting cast, which is good but not great.

Also The set puts you on the back lot of Paramount Studios with only hints ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Riveting, Great staging

See it if you want to see an actress reprise a Tony-winning role at the peak of her abilities; if you like lush beautiful melodies or a huge orchestra

Don't see it if you don't like a more traditional Broadway musical

Intense, Romantic, Phenomenal orchestrations

See it if You love big music, this 40 piece orchestra will blow you away. Glenn Close's descent into madness is clear and riveting, a wonderful show.

Don't see it if You prefer more intimate shows or don't care much for Glenn Close.

Great acting, Intense, Slow

See it if you want to see a legendary actress (not a singer though) live. Great presence on stage. Cool dresses. Enjoyable large-scale orchestra.

Don't see it if you expect a truly great singing - it is no more than just ok in this production. No set present - the orchestra takes up the whole stage.

Clever, Delightful, Great writing, Great staging

See it if Glenn Close is fantastic!

Don't see it if ....

Boring, Great acting, Great staging, Dull, Great direction

See it if you want to see a well directed production of a mediocre musical. It has 3 good sounds lost in a sea of boring muck.

Don't see it if #shouldabeenPatti

Also First of all this always should have been Patti! Loved the amazing hug... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber's work or are a fan of Glen Close and/or you never saw a production of Sunset Boulevard

Don't see it if you are not a fan of musicals or ALW.