One Word: SUBLIME
21 years on from playing the lead role of Norma Desmond in SUNSET BOULEVARD on Broadway, Glenn Close makes her West End debut in the same role; and it was certainly worth the wait. This new production, directed by Lonny Price, is currently taking the ENO’s Coliseum stage by storm (for the next five weeks at least).
Having first heard Close’s vocals on the American Premiere Recording many years ago, I have longed for a day to see her perform the iconic role, and today that happened. She may have the odd scratched note but her overall powerhouse performance shines out (as do the gems that bejewelled her during As If We Never Said Goodbye). The most emotional performance came from her Act 1 showstopper, With One Look, which made the audience erupt for several minutes after she belted out “With one look, I’ll be me!”
Price has brought together a stellar creative team to make this new slick production feel fresher than ever. James Noone’s large metal stair cases that encompass the orchestra help give a minimalist and grand feel to the production which come alive with Mark Henderson’s evocative lighting, making great use of the space. Stephen Mear’s choreography brings a fresh spin on the large ensemble numbers but also works wonders with Close’s moves during her solo numbers.
Leading man, Michael Xavier, gives a stellar performance as script writer Joe Gillis, with his powerful rendition of the title song, and Siobhan Dillon’s portrayal of Betty Schaefer makes us really feel for her when she finally reveals her feelings for Joe. Both deserve high recognition for their performances.
SUNSET BOULEVARD is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most underrated scores and in my opinion, his best. To have a 48 piece orchestra (enthusiastically lead by Michael Reed) play this score (note perfect I might add) amongst the cast is exactly how this show should be staged. The music is as much a lead role, as Norma is. If and when it finally makes its way to the big screen, they should look to this production for casting tips.
Close’s performance has matured like a fine wine over the last two decades; if you can see this show, go now! Norma is ready for her close up!
1st April – 7th May
English National Opera, London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4ES
Monday – Saturday 7:30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinees 2:30pm
£15.00 – £105.00, plus booking fee (no booking fee in person at Box Office)
020 7845 9300