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Sunset Boulevard (1993)

Compositeur: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Parolier: Christopher Hampton • Don Black

Librettiste: Christopher Hampton • Don Black

Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités


Impoverished screenwriter Joe Gillis stumbles upon the stuffy mansion of faded filmstar Norma Desmond by chance. She initially employs him to edit her script for a movie of Salome, which she plans to use as her comeback vehicle, demanding he reside at her home whilst he works. She soon falls hoplessly in love with him, and persuades him to stay on as her live-in lover, much to the shock of her loyal butler (and ex-husband) Max. Joe finds himself torn away from his old lifestyle and friendships. Meanwhile, Norma has proceeded with her plans for her return to the screen, and visits Paramount studios to seek Cecil B. DeMille's help. Away from Norma's glare, however, Joe collaborates in secret with young studio employee Betty Schaefer, and they soon declare their love for one another. Torn between his life of luxury supplied by Norma, and his genuine affection for Betty, Joe decides to leave Hollywood and start life afresh in his native Ohio. Norma, in a fit of shock and rage, shoots Joe as he leaves her home on Sunset Boulevard. In the final scene, she descends into insanity as press and police invade her home, and, believing herself to be back on the set of one of her movies, descends the grand staircase in ger mansion with the immortal words: "and now, Mr DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.."

Synopsis complet

Quelques commentaires

Sans doute, à notre avis, l'un des plus belles réussite de Andrew Lloyd Webber, on n(est pas loin du pur chef d'œuvre. Patti Lupone (Evita) a créé le rôle à Londres. Les problèmes vont naître dès qu'Andrew Lloyd Webber va décider de porter sa nouvelle oeuvre à Los Angeles. Lloyd Webber, déçu de la première version la retravaille, et propose le rôle à Faye Dunaway. Celle-ci ne convainc pas et est forcée de quitter les répétitions ce qui l'amène à porter plainte Andrew Lloyd Webber va trouver la perle rare, LA Norma Desmond : Glenn Close. En Décembre 1993, "Sunset Boulevard" ouvre à Los Angeles au Shubert Theater, et remporte un vif succès. Andrew Lloyd Webber avait promis à Patti Lupone qu'elle jouerait le rôle à Broadway, mais finalement il impose Glenn Close. Patti Lupone à son tour porte plainte pour rupture de contrat !!!!
Le spectacle fut un succès à Londres: 1529 représentations.


1 Sunset Boulevard peut-être considéré comme un Top musical


Historique du musical

Génèse du musical

From approximately 1952 to 1956, Gloria Swanson worked with actor Richard Stapley (aka Richard Wyler) and cabaret singer/pianist Dickson Hughes on a musical adaptation originally entitled Starring Norma Desmond, then Boulevard! It ended on a happier note than the film, with Norma allowing Joe to leave and pursue a happy ending with Betty. Paramount originally had given Swanson verbal permission to proceed with the musical, but there had been no formal legal arrangement. On 20 February 1957, Paramount executive Russell Holman wrote Swanson a letter in which he asked her to cease work on the project because "it would be damaging for the property to be offered to the entertainment public in another form as a stage musical." In 1994, Hughes incorporated material from the production into Swanson on Sunset, based on his and Stapley's experiences in writing Boulevard!. A recording of the entire score, which had been housed in the Gloria Swanson archives at the University of Texas, was released on CD in 2008.

In the early 1960s, Stephen Sondheim outlined a musical stage adaptation and went so far as to compose the first scene with librettist Burt Shevelove. A chance encounter with Billy Wilder at a cocktail party gave Sondheim the opportunity to introduce himself and ask the original film's co-screenwriter and director his opinion of the project (which was to star Jeanette MacDonald). "You can't write a musical about Sunset Boulevard," Wilder responded, "it has to be an opera. After all, it's about a dethroned queen." Sondheim immediately aborted his plans. A few years later, when he was invited by Hal Prince to write the score for a film remake starring Angela Lansbury as a fading musical comedienne rather than a silent film star, Sondheim declined, citing his conversation with Wilder.

When Lloyd Webber saw the film in the early 1970s, he was inspired to write what he pictured as the title song for a theatrical adaptation, fragments of which he instead incorporated into Gumshoe. In 1976, after a conversation with Hal Prince, who had the theatrical rights to Sunset, Lloyd Webber wrote "an idea for the moment when Norma Desmond returns to Paramount Studios"; Lloyd Webber did no further work on the play until after 1989's Aspects of Love.

At that point, Lloyd Webber "felt it was the subject [he] had to compose next", though by February 1990 he had announced plans to turn Really Useful Group private so he could "make movies rather than musicals."

In 1991, Lloyd Webber asked Amy Powers, a lawyer from New York with no professional lyric-writing experience, to write the lyrics for Sunset Boulevard. Don Black was later brought in to work with Powers; the two wrote the version that was performed in 1991 at Lloyd Webber's Sydmonton Festival. This original version starred Ria Jones as Norma but it was not a success. A revised version, written by Black and Christopher Hampton had a complete performance at the 1992 Sydmonton Festival, now with Patti LuPone playing Norma, and "met with great success". Lloyd Webber borrowed several of the tunes from his 1986 mini-musical Cricket, written with Tim Rice, which had had an acclaimed run at Windsor Castle and later at the Sydmonton Festival.

Sunset had its World Premiere at London's Adelphi Theatre on July 12, 1993, with Patti LuPone (Norma Desmond) and Kevin Anderson (Joe Gillis) starring and Daniel Benzali playing Max. The opening had been delayed slightly due to complex technical problems which plagued the show during development. Press interest had been unprecedented ever since the project was announced, but initial reviews were mixed. This did not stop the show receiving record advance bookings, however.
The American Premiere took place on December 9, 1993 not on Broadway, but in Los Angeles at the Shubert Theatre. This time the show starred Glenn Close (Norma Desmond), Alan Campbell (Joe Gillis), Judy Kuhn (Betty Schaefer) and George Hearn (Max von Mayerling).
Soon, it was decided that Close should open the Broadway production, with Faye Dunaway replacing her in LA. This caused great problems, as Patti LuPone had been promised the leading role on Broadway. She filed a million dollar lawsuit, feeling she had been badly let down. When Faye Dunaway came to rehearse for the LA show, it quickly became clear that her singing voice was not up to standard, and she too filed a court case (both were settled by out-of-court agreements). Without a leading lady, the LA production was closed when its cast moved to New York.
On November 17 1994, Sunset Boulevard opened on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre, with Close, Campbell and Hearn reprising their roles and Alice Ripley joining as Betty Schaefer. The show had the highest advance in Broadway history ($37.5 million in ticket sales). Sunset Boulevard gained the theatre's highest honour when it received seven Tony Awards in 1995, including Best Musical, Best Leading Actress, Best Score, Best Lighting and Best Scenic Design. The improvements made to the show for its American opening were incorporated into the London production in 1994, and it closed for a short while whilst these were implemented, reopening with a new star - Betty Buckley.
Divas Rita Moreno, Elaine Paige, Petula Clark and Karen Mason were all to play the title role on London and/or Broadway.
Sunset closed on Broadway on March 22nd 1997. The London production closed on the 5th April 1997 with Petula Clark and Graham Buckley playing the title roles.
The Canadian production opened on October 15, 1995 starring Diahann Carroll (Norma), Rex Smith (Joe) and Walter Charles (Max), but despite public interest, closed after a relatively short run.
The First US National Tour of Sunset Boulevard premiered in June 1996 with Linda Balgord in the starring role, but the tour ended in Chicago in 1997, despite having had plans to tour for at least a further two years. The Broadway production - flying mansion and all - had been recreated for this tour, and the sheer expense of moving the production around eventually proved its Achilles heel.
The show opened in Melbourne, Australia in October 1996 but it closed in 1997. Plans for an entirely new production to play the Sydney Opera House in November 1999 did not come to fruition.
Sunset Boulevard also played at Niederhausen near Frankfurt, Germany in a theatre specially constructed to house the show. The show was translated into German, and seemed to adapt very well. The production starred US jazz singer Helen Schneider, and TV-personality Daniela Ziegler during its respectable 2 1/2 year run; and was seen by nearly 1 million people. German Sunset had been set to close in 1997 alongside the London and Broadway productions, but it was saved by Peter Buck, a building contractor who bought the German rights to the musical from the Really Useful Group. He attempted to cut back on the running costs of the show, but unfortunately it still proved financially unsound. It closed on May 3rd 1998 with Sue Mathys (Norma Desmond) and Yngve Gasoy Romdal (Joe Gillis) in the lead roles.
A new US Touring Production opened in December 1998 in Pittsburgh, starring Petula Clark. This was a new production, with entirely new scenic design and direction, which was the cause of much controversy among fans of the show, many of whom saw it as highly inferior to the lavish original. The tour ran for over a year, however, and was well received by press all over the US.



Liste des chansons

Act I
• "Overture" / "I Guess It Was 5 am" – Joe
• "Let's Have Lunch" – Joe, Actors, actress, scriptwriters, Artie, Sheldrake, Betty
• "Every Movie's A Circus" † – Betty, Joe
• "Car Chase" – orchestra
• "At the House on Sunset" – Joe
• "Surrender" – Norma
• "With One Look" – Norma
• "Salome" – Norma, Joe
• "Greatest Star of All" – Max
• "Every Movie's a Circus (Reprise)" ∞ † – Actors, Actress, Waiters, Artie, Joe, Betty, Barman
• "Girl Meets Boy" – Joe, Betty
• "Back at the House" on Sunset – Joe, Max
• "New Ways to Dream" – Norma, Joe
• "Completion of the Script" – Norma, Joe
• "The Lady's Paying" – Norma, Manfred, Joe, Ensemble
• "New Year's Eve" – Joe, Max
• "The Perfect Year" – Norma, Joe
• "This Time Next Year" – Ensemble, Artie, Betty, Joe, Cecil B. DeMile
• New Year's Eve (Back at the House on Sunset) – Joe, Norma

Act II
• "Entr'acte" – orchestra
• "Sunset Boulevard" – Joe
• "There's Been a Call (Perfect year [Reprise])" – Norma
• "Journey to Paramount" – Joe, Norma
• "As If We Never Said Goodbye" – Norma
• "Paramount Conversations" – Betty, Joe, Norma, Cecil B. DeMile, Sheldrake, Max
• "Surrender (Reprise)" – Cecil B. DeMile
• "Girl Meets Boy (Reprise)" – Joe, Betty
• "Eternal Youth Is Worth a Little Suffering" – Norma, Astrologer, Beauticians
• "Who's Betty Schaefer?" – Joe
• "Betty's Office at Paramount" – Joe, Betty
• "Too Much in Love to Care" – Betty, Joe
• "New Ways to Dream (Reprise)" – Max
• "The Phone Call" – Norma
• "The Final Scene" – Joe, Betty, Norma, Max

† This is not included on the Original London Production or in the World Premiere recording.
∞ Originally a reprise of "Let's Have Lunch"

Liste des rôles

Norma Desmond - a star of the silent screen
Joe Gillis - a young screenwriter
Max von Mayerling - Norma's Major-Domo
Betty Schaefer - a secretary at Paramount
Cecil B. DeMille - Film Director
Artie Green

Textes disponibles on-line

Aucun livret ou texte de chanson disponibles pour le moment

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Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Sunset Boulevard.


Versions du musical

Versions majeures de Sunset Boulevard

Version 1

Sunset Boulevard (1991-xx-Sydmonton Festival) (Workshop)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : Inconnu
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Aucun
Chorégraphie : Aucun
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 2

Sunset Boulevard (1992-xx-Sydmonton Festival) (Workshop)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : Inconnu
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Aucun
Chorégraphie : Aucun
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 3

Sunset Boulevard (1993-07-Adelphi Theatre-London) (Original)
Durée : 3 ans 8 mois 4 semaines
Nombre : 1529 représentations
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : lundi 12 juillet 1993
Dernière : samedi 05 avril 1997
Mise en scène : Trevor Nunn
Chorégraphie : Bob Avian
Avec : Version 1:
Patti LuPone
12 juil 1993 - 12 mars 1994

Version 2:
Betty Buckley
19 avr 1994 - 14 mai 1995
(out du 29 nov 1994 - 7 jan 1995 remplacée par Elaine Page)

Elaine Paige
17 mai 1995 - 6 jan 1996
(out du 2 sept - 14 oct 1995, remplacée par Petula Clark)

Petula Clarck
9 jan 1996 - 5 avr 1997
(out du 9 sept - 2 nov 1996, remplacée par Rita Moreno)
Commentaires :
A londres, Norma Desmond sera jouée successivement par Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley, Elaine Paige, Petula Clark et Rita Moreno.
Les critiques ayant été mitigée à l'ouverture, le show va fermer trois semaines et rouvrir le 19 avril 1994 avec de nombreuses modifications rapprochant cette version de celle de Los Angeles (Glenn Close) qui avait elle été très bien accueillie.

Early in 1997, Andrew Lloyd Webber announced the immediate closure of both the West End and Broadway productions, claiming it was impossible to find cast replacements of sufficiently high quality. (Later it was disclosed the whole undertaking had lost an absolute fortune and was seriously impacting on the overall finances of Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Company. The sum of money paid to Faye Dunaway for breach of contract when she was sacked from the USA version was never disclosed, but it was claimed that Patti LuPone, initially promised the Broadway run, sued Lloyd Webber and received a settlement reported to be $1 million.
According to Broadway critic Frank Rich in his book “The Hot Seat”, these lawsuits contributed to “Sunset Boulevard” setting the record for the biggest loss ever made on a musical show. The operating costs exceeded the income, and the touring companies also generated large financial losses. In spite of running for more than two years and selling over a million tickets on Broadway, Rich puts the final losses near or above $20 million.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 4

Sunset Boulevard (1993-12-Shubert Theatre-Los Angeles) (Revival)
Durée : 7 mois 2 semaines
Nombre : 232 représentations
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : jeudi 09 décembre 1993
Dernière : mardi 26 juillet 1994
Mise en scène : Trevor Nunn
Chorégraphie : Bob Avian
Avec :
Commentaires :
Initially, Faye Dunaway and Rex Smith were to replace Close and Campbell. However, Dunaway was hired with no prior musical stage (or film) experience, and a week before her previews were to begin, Lloyd Webber fired her and decided to close the show.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 5

Sunset Boulevard (1994-11-Minskoff Theatre-Broadway) (Original Broadway)
Durée : 2 ans 4 mois
Nombre : 17 previews - 977 représentations
Première Preview : mardi 01 novembre 1994
Première : jeudi 17 novembre 1994
Dernière : samedi 22 mars 1997
Mise en scène : Trevor Nunn
Chorégraphie : Bob Avian
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 6

Sunset Boulevard (1995-12-Rhein-Main-Theater-Niedernhausen) (Revival)
Durée : 2 ans 4 mois 4 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : jeudi 07 décembre 1995
Première : jeudi 07 décembre 1995
Dernière : mardi 05 mai 1998
Mise en scène :
Chorégraphie :
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 7

Sunset Boulevard (1996-06-Us Tour 1) (US Tour)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : mercredi 01 juin 996
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Trevor Nunn
Chorégraphie : Bob Avian
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 8

Sunset Boulevard (1998-12-Us Tour 2) (US Tour)
Durée : 1 an 4 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : mardi 17 novembre 1998
Première : mardi 01 décembre 1998
Dernière : dimanche 09 avril 2000
Mise en scène :
Chorégraphie :
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 9

Sunset Boulevard (1998-12-Us Tour 2-1998-02-NJPAC-Newark) (US Tour)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : lundi 01 février 1999
Première : lundi 01 février 1999
Dernière : dimanche 07 février 1999
Mise en scène :
Chorégraphie :
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 10

Sunset Boulevard (2008-10-Nederlandse Tour-Nederland) (Revival)
Durée : 9 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : vendredi 10 octobre 2008
Dernière : dimanche 19 juillet 2009
Mise en scène : Paul Eenens
Chorégraphie : ???? ????
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 11

Sunset Boulevard (2008-12-Comedy Theatre-London) (Revival)
Durée : 5 mois 2 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : jeudi 04 décembre 2008
Première : lundi 15 décembre 2008
Dernière : samedi 30 mai 2009
Mise en scène : Craig Revel Horwood
Chorégraphie : Craig Revel Horwood
Avec : Kathryn Evans (Norma Desmond), Ben Goddard (Joe Gillis), Laura Pitt-Pulford (Betty Schaefer), Dave Willetts (Max)
Commentaires :
Over the fifteen years since it first opened “Sunset Boulevard” had been associated with awards, lawsuits, long runs, big stagings and even bigger losses. But this revival revealed a smaller, more dramatic and intensely gripping show. With just a chaise longue and a spiral staircase to suggest Norma Desmond’s faded glamour, some people felt it failed to capture the decadent spirit of the original, and with actors doubling as musicians, it felt a bit cheap and “Brechtian”. However, most of the critics felt being able to concentrate on the essence of the characters and the score was an enormous advantage– and confirmed that, at heart, “Sunset Boulevard” is a great and undervalued musical. Originally the show was scheduled to close in mid-April, but the booking period was extended to mid-September. However, six weeks into the extended period, on May 30 th, the show closed due to a downturn in sales.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 12

Sunset Boulevard (2011-06-Stiftsruine-Bad Hersfeld) (Revival)
Durée : 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : mardi 21 juin 2011
Dernière : dimanche 03 juillet 2011
Mise en scène : Gil Mehnert
Chorégraphie : Melissa King
Avec : Helen Schneider (Norma Desmond), Rasmus Borkowski (Joe Gillis), Wietske van Tongeren (Betty Schaefer), Helmut Baumann (Max von Mayerling), Wolfgang Scheiner (Celile B. DeMille), Martin Kiuntke (Artie Green), Daniel Berger (Sheldrake), Claus Dam (Manfred / Myron), Suzana Novosel, Stefanie Köhm, Yara Hassan, Sabine Ruflair, Jessica Fendler, Marthe Römer, Amélie Dobler, Ariana Schirasi-Fard, Fredrik Andersson, Christopher Hemmans, Wolfgang Türks, Martin Kiuntke, Oliver Mülich, Daniel Dimitrow, Daniel Berger, Klaus Brantzen, Bernard Niemeyer, Christian Hante
En savoir plus sur cette version

Mais aussi, quelques versions régionales ou mineures, ... de Sunset Boulevard


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