(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/4; via Pam Green.)
Billy Wilder, on emerging from the original 1993 staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, quipped: “It’ll make a good movie.”
The joke is that it was already a Hollywood classic that no musical could ever quite match. But this semi-staged version seems closer to the Wilder film noir and boasts a breathtaking performance from Glenn Close as the fallen Hollywood star, Norma Desmond, lost in a world of illusions.
This is, in fact, the second musical to be staged during a gap in the English National Opera season as a means of enhancing their revenues – and the relief is that it works.
For a start, it has none of the epic scale of the original London production. Norma Desmond’s baroque palazzo, where she lives as a recluse, is evoked through nothing more than intertwined gantries lit from within.