GOOD MORNING BROADWAY FANS! Who is getting their hypes up since Broadway’s Biggest Night of the year is 27 days away? Each day we at?New York Broadway Tours are waking up you up with some of the most breathtaking performances from the past Tony Awards telecasts in our Top 30 Countdown.
Today at #27, we take a stroll to a famous street in Hollywood where a famous silent movie diva is on the verge of a comeback but drama occurs. This is of course the iconic Sunset Boulevard, a musical version of the 1950 film written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, and Christopher Hampton.
From the 1995 telecast, the legendary Glenn Close as the iconic Norma Desmond arrives at a Hollywood soundstage for the first time in many years singing the show’s powerful anthem AS IF WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE.
SUNSET BOULEVARD first premiered in London’s West End at the Adelphi Theatre in July 1993 with Patti LuPone as Norma Desmond opening to mixed reviews especially around LuPone’s performance (UK audiences loved her but American audiences were not happy saying LuPone was a complete “miscast”). Around the same time the show was going through a revamp, the show had it’s American premiere in Los Angeles at the Shubert Theatre in December 1993 with Glenn Close as Norma Desmond earning rave reviews before bringing her LA Performance to Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre in November 1994 playing a total of 977 performances. It was nominated for 11 Tony Awards in 1995 and won 8 including Best Musical & Best Performance By A Leading Actress In A Musical (for Close). The Broadway production’s later Norma Desmond’s included Petula Clark, Betty Buckley and Dame Elaine Paige. The show is still being performed internationally and in many different languages. Most recently, Close reprised her role of Norma Desmond for a semi-staged production of the musical at the English National Opera in London. It’s currently rumored to hit NYC next.
FUN FACT: The show was well known some controversy with casting. Originally Patti LuPone was set to open the New York company. However, the American critics were not pleased about LuPone’s portrayl opening the show in London and her behavior. In addition, Glenn Close’s powerful portrayl in LA changed the critics minds. Andrew Lloyd Webber decided it was “commercially safer” to fire LuPone from the show and not tell her. LuPone eventually found out from an article by Liz Smith saying it’s “GLENN AS NORMA”. Heartbroken, LuPone (as mentioned in her autobiography) broke down taking a bat and tore her entire dressing room down (pretty much like when those 80’s rock stars damage hotel rooms). In addition, LuPone sued Lloyd Webber and received a settlement reported to be over $1 million.
Besides LuPone, there was controversy for Faye Dunaway, who was supposed to replace Close as Norma Desmond (when she left for Broadway) in the LA company but also got fired because Lloyd Webber said her singing choice was not strong enough for the role. Instead of continuing and not getting a new Norma, the LA production closed. Dunaway filed a lawsuit saying her reputation has been destroyed. The lawsuit got settled and the producers paid her a settlement.
Isn’t this show so emotional?! How horrible is the backstage drama?!