Review: Sunset Boulevard, starring Glenn Close
Glenn Close made her return to Broadway this past season with the revival of Sunset Boulevard in the role she played in Los Angeles in 1993, and again on Broadway in 1994, the main character Norma Desmond.
Norma is a faded celebrity, who still lives in the idea that she has legions of fans who send her fan mail, and deserves star treatment wherever she goes, and struggles to take any criticism at all. Unlike her first time playing Norma, Glenn Close is now the same age as her character, making the role more believable.
Opposite Glenn Close, are the two standouts of the performance, Michael Xavier as Joe, and Siobhan Dillon as Betty. Not only does the pair have flawless on-stage chemistry, but they are both very talented. Xavier made his Broadway debut with Sunset Boulevard and will next be seen in Prince of Broadway, which opens on August 24. Dillon also made her Broadway debut with the show, though has previously played the same role in London. Their talent is truly shown in the number "Too Much in Love to Care", close to the end of Act II.
However the standout number of the show is "Let's Have Lunch", the second song in the show. The first notes burst with energy, and the lively explosion of the cast onto the stage, mirrors the energetic song. While the song is absolutely fantastic, the show goes downhill after that. Nothing matches the energy or excitement of that number.
Close is a standout in her own right, though I found it hard to even remember she was in the show as it started. The rest of the cast is phenomenal and make the show. Close's big solo number "As If We Never Said Goodbye" at the beginning of Act II, is a beautiful rendition of the song, and for Close, the meaning of the song is true as she returns to the same part over two decades later.
The orchestra is not in the pit, as per usual for a Broadway show. Instead they're up on stage, cutting the size of the stage for the cast to move around on in half. In this production, the orchestra pit serves as the "swimming pool" in Norma Desmond's mansion and later, where Joe falls into when he's killed by Norma's gun.
Overall, the revival of Sunset Boulevard is a work of art in its own right, though not a stellar production. Close's star turn in the role that has been hers for over twenty years is well done. And the musical is likely to make stars of Michael Xavier and Siobhan Dillon.
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