I was honored and frankly a little giddy to be included in the friends and family viewing of Sunset Boulevard last night. This was the first performance of the show for a full house audience on Broadway. The show starts in previews today. The hand picked audience was crackling with excitement, but more importantly enthusiasm. We were prepared to be dazzled. And dazzled we were by this achingly painful and layered love story of an aging screen starlet abandoned by the audience she so clearly cherished and by a community she so clearly needed.
When I say love I don’t mean it in the traditional boy meets girl love story (though that is in the show too) I mean true love of a profession – moviemaking – a love so deep and profound that even after it has cruelly tossed you asunder you are still desperate to return to the lights, the cameras, the action, and the magic of moviemaking. And desperate she was, dear Norma Desmond, masterfully played by the powerhouse Glenn Close at age 69. The audience collectively leaned forward in our seats when Glenn made her entrance on stage. The applause was thundering and she had to repeat her opening line. After that we were treated to an emotional tour de force performance (and an array of eccentric outfits). The range that she covered was impressive, even exhausting, as she travelled from strong and dignified, to manipulative and delusional, to finally heartbroken and lost. Utterly lost. Truth be told I did not know she could sing. She can sing!
While Glenn Close is clearly the star of this show her co-star, to me, was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music. This was made abundantly clear when the curtain went up and the entire orchestra was seated center stage – the largest orchestra EVER assembled for a Broadway show. Was a feast for the senses as the orchestra played and black and white movies were projected on a thin silk screen. The supporting cast was winning as well and equally in love with this business we call show business (cruelties and all). I could go on and on but I won’t because your time would be better spent buying a ticket. Thank you Samira Sine and bravo to the Sine family for bringing this show to our backyard.