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Sunset Boulevard [Feb. 16th, 2017|01:44 am]

Well, I'm having trouble coming up with something to say, so I'll start with don't miss Glenn Close in English National Opera's Sunset Boulevard on Broadway. Everyone else who'll be in the running for the leading actress Tony Award should be very glad she's not eligible (because she won for the original). Though the category is sure to have a formidable slate of nominees, she's kicked off the spring by setting the bar incredibly high. Playing a character who was a commanding presence on the screen, the way she takes possession of the stage is spellbinding. Her voice isn't as plush or flexible as might be ideal, but she manages her vocal resources in service of her portrayal so that her singing is never at issue. (At her age, half the battle is surely using the instrument you have rather than the one you wish or imagine; what she has is still a force to be reckoned with.)

The production began in London as a concert staging. The orchestra (slightly smaller here) is onstage beneath a scaffolding of stairs and platforms. Props and furniture—and light, there's so much superb lighting—suggest the various settings. The grandeur of the design was apparently part of the original's appeal (I never saw it); here the work is done by the score and the star. Stars...Michael Xavier as Joe and and Fred Johanson as Max shoulder much of the work of creating a show for Close to inhabit.

The score has a lot of fantastic in it. And some not-so-convincing. It's through-sung, and I didn't love some of the dialogue, which is recitative dressed up as songs, or vice-versa. I did think at times that it's really a dreadfully dark 90-minute, three-character melodrama padded out with ensemble scenes to lighten the mood.

But Close is the show, and shouldn't be missed.

Oh, and Hillary Clinton was there too, a few rows behind us.

[User Picture]From: wonderboynj
2017-02-16 03:31 pm (UTC)
So, now that you've seen the show...

Glenn Close is perfectly cast in the role because, she plays a fading movie star NOT a singer, I think that helps suspend the vocal limitations. But really she does a great job with the voice she has. Apparently she took voice lessons for some time before the London run.

According to Wikipedia, Sondheim was approached about doing a musical version but it was going to be about an aging comedienne, to be played by Angela Lansbury. He declined.

I think the score is ALW's best. I may try to see it again
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[User Picture]From: sirpupnyc
2017-02-16 05:46 pm (UTC)
One of the reviews I read last night said Sondheim was thinking of doing it until Wilder said it had to be an opera. (Which is the story I've read before.)

Edited at 2017-02-16 05:47 pm (UTC)
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