Sunset Boulevard at Signature Theatre

I'll tell you right now I'm not Andrew Lloyd Webber's biggest fan. However, one of the two good things he did was Sunset Boulevard (the other is Evita). If you don't know, the musical is based on the movie of the same name, starring Gloria Swanson and directed by Billy Wilder. A faded movie star falls in love with a much younger man, who basically uses her for her money. Happy!

As with most of Signature's big shows, the cast is phenomenal, the set is utterly gorgeous, and resident music director Jon Kalbfleisch directs an incredibly lush 20-piece orchestra (which seems to be an apology for the debacle that was the 4-piece orchestra during Sweeney Todd last season). Broadway veteran Florence Lacey leads the show as Norma Desmond, the slightly delusional ex-movie star who found herself out of the spotlight once the "talkies" came along. Lacey is, in a word, amazing. She can sing the part and she can act the part. Watching her is electrifying. I got goosebumps every time she opened her mouth. D.B. Bonds, another Broadway vet, plays Joe Gillis, the inadvertent leading man in Norma's life. All he did was leave his car in Norma's driveway, and not long after, he's living at the mansion off of her money. Bonds does a decent job with a tricky part, though I was honestly disappointed with his rendition of "Sunset Boulevard," the song that kicks off the second act. That's my favorite song in the whole show, and I was really looking forward to something... more. Ed Dixon joins as the third wheel of the trio, Max von Mayerling. You would not believe the voice on this man. Freaking amazing. These three lead an ensemble that is incredibly impressive. They dance! They sing!

Dan Conway has wowed us once again with his stellar set. The grand staircase is a character in and of itself! Even with the inherently flawed script, the ensemble delivers an out-of-this-world performance from beginning to end. 4 stars

Sunset Boulevard
book and lyrics by Don Black
music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
directed by Eric Schaeffer
running through February 13, 2011


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