Reviewed on ReviewsGate when it opened in Leicester, our reviewer, Graham Clark, catches up with it on tour. It eqarns another 5*****
Bradford, The Alhambra Theatre
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Book and Lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton
Running time 2hours 35 minutes including a 15 minute interval.
Runs until Saturday 10 February 2018 and Touring
Telephone 01274 432000
Review Graham Clark 06 02 18
A real gem of a show
Going to see a musical you know little about or having knowledge of can be a good thing sometimes as you have no pre-conceived ideas. I knew that some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals can sometimes be a little downbeat but this touring version of Sunset Boulevard is a real gem.
Set in post was Hollywood the story revolves around faded silent screen goddess Norma Desmond who lives in her Sunset Boulevard mansion. When debt ridden Writer Joe Gillis stumbles into her life she sees a chance to revive her career. Joe enjoys Norma’s money and attention and soon the pair become involved in a romantic relationship that ends up doomed.
Joe writes a new story for her that will hopefully be turned into a film for her to play the leading role in but the Hollywood producers think her time has passed.
Norma’s butler, Max Von Meyerling tries to fool Norma that she has thousands of fans by writing fan letters himself and sending them to her time and time again, of course there is a twist in the tale with Max turning out to be Norma’s ex husband!
With Joe also having his eye on the younger Betty Schaefer a love tangle develops as the show progresses. Like an Agatha Christie novel, this musical draws you into the plot and for me there was never a dull moment.
The 4 characters are the back bone of the musical with Ria Jones as Norma being the musicals real star, her vocals were superb and her portrayal of Norma went from being like a teenager in love to one of jealousy. She is vulnerable, flawed yet believable – the show lays bare the human condition, it is about ageing and acceptance and living in the present and not in the past.
With a 15 piece orchestra the score is lush, emotional and at times soulful. One of the songs, A Perfect Year was a hit single in 1993 for Dina Carroll whilst the rest of the songs are memorable so much so that they will still be in your head the day after.
Receiving a standing ovation and rightly so, this is in a class of its own from start to finish.
Norma Desmond – Ria Jones
Joe Gillis – Danny Mac
Max Von Meyerling – Adam Pearce
Betty Schaefer- Molly Lynch
Artic Green – Dougie Carter
Cecil B Demille – Carl Sanderson