×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.

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

  • Gary review

    Broadway Review: 'Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus' With Nathan Lane

    Nathan Lane and Kristine Nielsen, two of the funniest people on the face of the earth, play street cleaners tasked with carting away the dead after the civil wars that brought down the Roman Empire. Well, a job’s a job, and Gary (Lane) and Janice (Nielsen) go about their disgusting work without complaint. “Long story [...]

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Three Sisters review

    London Theater Review: 'Three Sisters'

    Ennui has become exhaustion in playwright Cordelia Lynn’s new version of “Three Sisters.” The word recurs and recurs. Everyone on the Prozorov estate is worn out; too “overworked” to do anything but sit around idle. Are they killing time or is time killing them? Either way, a play often framed as a study of boredom [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Hillary and Clinton review

    Broadway Review: Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in 'Hillary and Clinton'

    If anyone could play Hillary Clinton, it’s Laurie Metcalf – and here she is, in Lucas Hnath’s “Hillary and Clinton,” giving a performance that feels painfully honest and true. And if anyone could capture Bill Clinton’s feckless but irresistible charm, that would be John Lithgow – and here he is, too. Who better to work [...]

  • Hadestown review

    Broadway Review: 'Hadestown'

    “Hadestown” triggered a lot of buzz when this wholly American show (which came to the stage by way of a concept album) premiered at Off Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop in 2016. Arriving on Broadway with its earthly delights more or less intact, this perfectly heavenly musical — with book, music and lyrics by Anaïs [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content