×

Sunset Boulevard

A mostly satisfying production that fills every inch of the intimate Max stage with the rich sounds of angst and opportunism.

With:
Norma - Florence Lacey Joe - D.B. Bonds Max - Ed Dixon Betty - Susan Derry With: Sean Thompson, J. Fred Schiffman, Matt Conner, Harry A. Winter.

It pays to be persistent. Signature Theater a.d. Eric Schaeffer has for years sought the rights to “Sunset Boulevard” from Andrew Lloyd Webber and finally received the OK — provided he use the original Broadway orchestrations and a 20-piece orchestra. The result is a mostly satisfying production that fills every inch of the intimate Max stage with the rich sounds of angst and opportunism.

With the musicians crammed on the balcony behind the stage and Daniel Conway’s intricate set accommodating an antique limo and rising grand staircase, it’s the heftiest production ever mounted by Signature. It’s also the first time the tuner based on the 1950 Billy Wilder pic has ever played the nation’s capital.

Schaeffer, an unabashed admirer of dark musicals, directs with a hint of self-restraint in that department given the film noir genre he’s playing in. This Signature production delivers on many fronts, an accomplishment considering the tuner’s well-known limitations that include a repetitive score and frequent groan-inducing lyrics from Don Black and Christopher Hampton (“I’m rich, not some platinum blonde witch”).

The cast is led by Signature regular Florence Lacey as the faded silent film legend Norma Desmond. Lacey excels when it counts most, especially her stirring “As if We Never Said Goodbye” on the Paramount soundstage and her sensitive treatment of the delusional finale. D.B. Bonds plays the cynical and struggling Hollywood scriptwriter Joe Gillis. It’s a challenging role with many vocal and acting demands, all handled with aplomb by the handsome tenor. Together, the pair strike gold with their duet “The Perfect Year.”

As protective butler Max, Ed Dixon is an authoritative presence with his rich baritone and humorless demeanor. Susan Derry’s lovely soprano and sparkling innocence capture just the right notes of Betty, the writer who falls for Joe.

Popular on Variety

Sunset Boulevard

Signature Max Theater; Arlington, Va.; 276 seats; $85 top

Production: A Signature Theater presentation of a musical in two acts with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, based on the Billy Wilder film. Directed by Eric Schaeffer. Musical director, Jon Kalbfleisch; choreography, Karma Camp.

Creative: Sets, Daniel Conway; costumes, Kathleen Geldard; lighting, Howell Binkley; video design, Matthew Gardiner; Opened Dec. 18, 2010. Reviewed Dec. 19. Runs through Feb. 13. Running time: 2 HOURS, 5 MIN.

Cast: Norma - Florence Lacey Joe - D.B. Bonds Max - Ed Dixon Betty - Susan Derry With: Sean Thompson, J. Fred Schiffman, Matt Conner, Harry A. Winter.

More Legit

  • David-Alan-Grier-Blair-Underwood

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood to Star in 'A Soldier's Play' on Broadway

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood will star in a Broadway production of Pulitzer-Prize winning drama “A Soldier’s Play.” The play, written by Charles Fuller, is set in 1944 and follows a murder mystery centered around the death of black Sergeant Vernon C. Waters (played by Grier) who is found on a Louisiana army base. [...]

  • The Inheritance review

    'The Inheritance' Announces Broadway Cast

    After an Olivier-winning run in London, “The Inheritance” is gearing up for its Broadway debut. The two-part epic has set the cast for its transfer from the West End to the Great White Way. John Benjamin Hickey, Paul Hilton, Samuel H. Levine, Andrew Burnap and Kyle Soller are among the cast members reprising their roles [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Announces 2020 National Tour

    ‘Hadestown’, the eight-time Tony award winning Broadway musical, is set for a national tour in 2020. The show will stop in more than 30 cities including Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and more. The musical is a stage adaptation of the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and King Hades and his wife [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Listen: Why Jake Gyllenhaal Is His 'Best Self' in the Theater

    Looking for the best possible version of Jake Gyllenhaal? You’ll find it onstage, according to the actor himself. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I am my best self when I’m working in the theater,” Gyllenhaal said on the latest episode Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast, on which he appeared with Carrie Cracknell, the director of [...]

  • Photo: Jeremy Daniel

    'The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical' Gets Broadway Run

    “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is Broadway bound. The musical adaptation of the franchise about a teenager who discovers he’s the son of Poseidon hits the Great White Way on Sept. 20 ahead of an Oct. 16 opening night. It comes on the heels of an extensive, nationwide tour that took the show [...]

  • Tom Sturridge Jake Gyllenhaal

    Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge Celebrate 'Sea Wall/A Life' With Star-Studded Opening Night

    A star-studded audience looked on as Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge returned to the stage for their double monologue performance in “Sea Wall/A Life.” Theater-goers and celebs including Anne Hathaway, Tom Hiddleston and John Mulaney gathered in Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre for opening night, celebrating a show tackling grief, birth and death through the eyes of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content