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Review | Sunset Boulevard | Savoy Theatre | 06/01/2024

The majority of my reviews are from when I have been invited to review productions. However, sometimes a show I book myself impresses me so much that I can’t not write about it. I am posting this review on the final day of Sunset Boulevard’s monumental 16 week run at Savoy Theatre. I was lucky enough to see this bold revival twice, once with Nicole Scherzinger and also Rachel Tucker playing the lead role.

Based on 1950 film of the same name, Sunset Boulevard tells the story of faded silent movie-star Norma Desmond. In an age of ‘talkies’ she has been forgotten by Hollywood, though certainly not by herself and butler Max!

The incomparable Jamie Lloyd has taken the source material from this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and created nothing short of a masterpiece. A show more commonly known for its sets and costuming has been completely stripped back, with the full cast in simple black and white in correlation with the era in which it is set. What is most noticeably different is the heavy use of live camera feeds projecting onto a large screen that appears/disappears throughout. Nathan Amzi & Joe Ransoms video design is absolutely incredible, with each shot meticulously directed throughout. How they do THAT act two opener faultlessly every night is a feat in intensely. With the show due to open on Broadway later this year, I won’t be spoiling what happens here, but it is sensational. The cinematography is wonderfully supported with lighting by Jack Knowles, allowing the audience to see only what director Lloyd wants them to see.

Many people were confused by the casting of Nicole Scherzinger, believing her to be too young for the iconic role. However, she is in fact around the same age that both Patti LuPone and Glenn Close were when they originated the roles in the early 90s. The casting of Scherzinger couldn’t have been more perfect, with parallels in having huge fame then later being dismissed in the same industry. Little nods to this were brilliantly incorporated into the production through dance moves, delivery of certain lines and even photos! She was absolutely mesmerising as I sat open mouthed in awe at many moments in the show. Not only were her vocals spine-tinglingly good, her acting was outrageously good. As far as I was concerned Nicole was Norma, give her the Olivier NOW!

On Monday evenings, west end royalty Rachel Tucker took the role of Norma and she didn’t disappoint. Giving a different interpretation to Norma, Tuckers unhinged unravelling in the second act was nothing short of sensational. Her build from clean vocals, to her trademark gritty growl in ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ is something that will always stay with me.

Tom Francis plays Joe Gillis, and is every bit the leading man. I was fortunate enough to see him make his stage debut it Rent at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, so it was great to see him really have his moment. He really was made to play this role. With support from Grace Hodgett-Young and Olivier award winner David Thaxton, this cast is sensational. Special mention should go to the powerful ensemble who provided some unforgettable the highlights in ‘Let’s Have Lunch’ and ‘This Time Next Year.’

It’s safe to say I adored this production. I have always said this is my favourite Andrew Lloyd Webber score, but this revival took everything to a level that I didn’t know could be reached. Having first seen this revival a month ago, I have thought about it ever since and can’t imagine that changing anytime soon. Broadway, you’re in for a treat!

Note: My ticket was paid for personally. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.

For clarity I saw the show on 11 December 2023 and 04 January 2024.


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