A Triumphant Return: SUNSET BOULEVARD at London Coliseum

Sunset Boulevard is undeniably one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most overlooked and underrated musicals and nothing is a better reminder of this show's greatness than this lavish revival, currently playing at the London Coliseum for a limited five week run with the show's most iconic and prolific star to date, Miss Glenn Close, at the helm. 

I won't lie: I'd never cared for much more of the show than Norma Desmond's two big numbers "With One Look" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye" but after seeing this production both on Saturday afternoon and at last night's press night, I am hooked - the show is already one of my Top 10 favourite musicals of all time (a list that hasn't been tampered with for years)Sunset Boulevard follows the same sort of story as the classic Billy Wilder film with washup film star Norma Desmond seeking companionship and artistic help from Joe Gillis, an up and coming Hollywood writer. Meanwhile, despite Desmond's passion for Gillis, he is actually seeking the same things from his best friend's fiance Betty Shaefer. It's a wonderfully simple yet original tale of love, self-obsession and returning to what you live for that is uplifting both musically and from a story perspective.

Despite this revival being semi-staged, the story is adorned with enough set to easily make you forget about its intended "semi-staged" quality and simply think of it as a full-blown revival of this classic; with the full orchestra conducted by Michael Reed playing in the background, everything about this new production is lavish and grand. Gorgeous lighting is also used throughout - something I've learned to really appreciate in a show - and the way they recreated the car chase scene on stage by two actors simply running around holding a pair of headlights was simple yet genius. 6-time Olivier Award-winner Mark Henderson's work is beautiful and duly noted - he won the Olivier Award for Best Lighting Design this year for his work on the revival of Gypsy at the Savoy.

Michael Xavier and Siobhan Dillon on Sunset Boulevard

Glenn Close returning to the role that won her a Tony Award is also pretty nifty; everything's as if Glenn Close never said goodbye to the role. Her performance is absolutely out of this world and the fact she has such a mature yet lived-in quality to her voice these days only adds to the beauty in her performance; when she plays Norma Desmond, you can see her "returning to [her] glory days" in this career-defining role she performed before, much like how Norma feels when she returns to Paramount Studios. Michael Xavier's Joe Gillis is also outstanding. Every time I see him perform on stage, I am blown away by his ability to make a character his own and to sing a part so well. He's constantly likeable - even when he turns sour at the end of the show, in my eyes - which is very hard to play I am sure. Siobhan Dillon also makes a notably wonderful performance as Betty Shaefer with a voice that never ceases to floor me. Her quirky naivety and natural grace makes the performance all the more pleasant and a perfect fit for Dillon's character.

Sunset Boulevard is back in London at the height of its power once more. I am charmed to have finally fallen in love with this gorgeous show thanks to this perfect revival from the ENO. It is one thing seeing Glenn Close reprise her performance as Norma Desmond, but it is another thing to see her do just that surrounded by a stellar cast of outstanding performers. Sunset Boulevard is the latest #SMMPick.

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