Norma Desmond is ready for her close-up once again — on Broadway at least. Glenn Close is returning to the Great White Way in one of her most famous roles in the first Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard.” This comes after this new production played at the London Coliseum this past spring to sold-out houses and glowing reviews.
The minimalist production, directed in London and New York by Lonny Price and featuring a 40-piece orchestra, will play a limited 16-week engagement at the Palace Theater beginning February 9, 2017, and could prove to be a serious contender in several Tony races, including the highly competitive Best Musical Revival category. As of this announcement “Sunset Boulevard” is one of only five eligible musical revivals for the 2016-2017 season, along with already running productions of “Cats” and “Falsettos,” as well as upcoming revivals of “Miss Saigon” and “Hello Dolly.”
The original production of “Sunset Boulevard” opened on Broadway in 1994, running for 977 performances and earning seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Actress in a Musical for Close. But despite its long run and numerous industry awards, the show closed at a multi-million-dollar loss due to the extravagance of the production and its high weekly running costs.
Though critical reactions to that original production were mixed, reviews for this new staging were far more effusive, with Matt Trueman (Variety) writing, “The bare-stage simplicity lets your imagination do the work and leaves all the ambiguity intact. Without a grand gothic mansion imposing itself, it can be both sweet and sour, macabre and romantic. Close’s Norma is both endearing and deranged… Played this simply, the story starts to shimmer.” On October 24 the production earned a nomination for Best Musical at London’s Evening Standard Theater Awards, and Close earned a nomination for Best Musical Performance.
The original production was also famous for its off-stage drama surrounding its leading ladies. Two-time Tony winner Patti LuPone originated the role of Norma Desmond in London and was promised the role when the show went to Broadway, but then it was announced that Close, who had been playing the role of Norma in Los Angeles, would replace LuPone in New York. LuPone later received a hefty financial settlement from Lloyd Weber.
Close is ineligible for Tony consideration this time around (performers cannot be nominated for playing the same role more than once), but in addition to the Tony she won for “Sunset” in 1994 she has two additional victories for her work on the rialto: Best Actress in a Play for “The Real Thing” (1984), and “Death and the Maiden” (1992).
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