Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?

Phan#24601
Stand-by
joined:11/29/11
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 08:08pm
Just wondering if any of you guys know what caused such a masterpiece to end up not doing well. I heard it was that Glenn Close left the production or something, but I just think it is actually a pretty decent work of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Also wondering about your takes on the show. What did you guys think of it?
My biggest pet peeve right now is when people pronounce it "Marry-us" and not "Mah-ree-us".
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 08:11pm
You might be gilding the lily when you call it "a masterpiece".
yes, you
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 08:16pm
A masterpiece? HA. The set, maybe. The rest, a bore.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 08:38pm
I'd have to agree with the above sentiments. Entirely. Hardly a masterpiece. I've never once yearned to hear it again.

Was Close (whom I love, btw) a big enough name to make a difference?
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
theatreguy
Broadway Legend
joined:7/31/03
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 08:47pm
Close left on July 2, 1995 and the show managed to run through March 22, 1997 with Betty Buckley and then Elaine Paige. The grosses definitely dropped after Close left though and the show was hugely expensive to run.

http://www.playbillvault.com/Grosses/Show/2334/Sunset-Boulevard

Updated On: 2/2/14 at 08:47 PM
blaxx
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 08:58pm
You answered your own question. Only the creatives and fans would think of it as a masterpiece.
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bobs3
Broadway Legend
joined:4/8/12
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 09:01pm
It was a star vehicle with Glenn Close. After she left they couldn't find someone with enough box office appeal to replace her. They tried advertising it as an Andrew Lloyd Webber show when Betty Buckley and Elaine Paige played Norma but what worked in London didn't work on Broadway.



Updated On: 2/2/14 at 09:01 PM
nicnyc
Understudy
joined:7/7/12
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 11:02pm
I was lucky enough to see Glenn Close play the part. It is a memory I'll cherish forever. She was absolutely mesmerizing, terrifying and wonderfully vulnerable all at once - I imagine her performance elevated the character and piece in a way that other actresses could not. I imagine she was a box office draw as well. From a purely artistic aspect, I don't think anyone could act that role the way she could.
The Distinctive Baritone
Broadway Legend
joined:8/28/04
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 11:16pm
It's not a very good show, apart from a few songs, and the Broadway production was too expensive to run without full houses.
bobs3
Broadway Legend
joined:4/8/12
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 11:20pm
I saw Glenn Close and she was remarkable -- perhaps only Meryl Streep could have done what she did with the part. I saw it again with Elaine Paige who did an entirely different take on the role, she actually played the comedy (this character is a freak show after all) and her make-up and mannerisms actually resembled Gloria Swanson in the film (which was a very brave thing to do).
AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 11:20pm
By building up the buzz in L.A. before bringing it to New York it almost seems, in hindsight, as if the producers painted themselves into a corner as so much of the talk was about Glenn Close's performance. The show opened on Broadway with a record setting advance sale, but, as has been stated previously here in this thread, ticket sales dropped dramatically when Glenn left the show. Other stars in the original production didn't seem to be able to create that kind of ticket frenzy, including Diahann Carroll in the Toronto production, which also closed much earlier than anticipated. It has even been speculated that the story about Faye Dunaway being unable to sing the score was concocted as a cover up for poor advance ticket sales for her run in the L.A. company. The show also had a financially disastrous first national tour that went out without a star, hoping that Lloyd Webber's name and the promise of a huge set would put audiences in the seats, neither of which did. Quality of the material aside the show, both in its various sit down productions and on the road, was just too expensive to last without a major star giving it her all.
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Jon
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/04
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 11:24pm
When Glenn Close was in it, it sold out, but she was getting a huge salary, PLUS a percentage of the box office. When Buckley (and later Paige) replaced her, the weekly running cost went down, but so did the box office. The show was too dependent on star power. Big difference from Les Miz, Phantom, Miss Saigon, etc, where no one really cared who was playing the lead roles.
rosscoe(au)
Broadway Legend
joined:8/20/05
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/2/14 at 11:58pm
Having seen Close in LA , the only other person who came close to her, was Maria Mercedes who was the understudy in the Australia production ( Debra Byrne was a train wreck ). Mercedes was stunning, scary, sung the hell out of it and brought out the madness. Still one of the finest nights out theatre anywhere, period!
Well I didn't want to get into it, but he's a Satanist. Every full moon he sacrifices 4 puppies to the Dark Lord and smears their blood on his paino. This should help you understand the score for Wicked a little bit more. Tazber's: Reply to Is Stephen Schwartz a Practicing Christian
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 12:48am
I saw an extremely mediocre borderline bad local production. Without the big set and floating house, it is a collosal bore to sit through. The book and score do not work when taken out of the context of a multi-million dollar set.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
Mattbrain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/23/05
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 01:05am
Eh, most of ALW's lexicon is a guilty pleasure.

You ever think the production was also never able to shake off the sting of Patti LuPone's firing?
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bobs3
Broadway Legend
joined:4/8/12
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 01:08am
Only a few theater queens in NYC were upset by Patti LuPone's firing. Most people were excited by the casting of Glenn Close.
Mattbrain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/23/05
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 01:23am
I was never a big fan of her performance to be honest. Always found it a bit too campy. Granted, the only frame of reference I have is the album but that's another story.
Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you. --Cartman: South Park ATTENTION FANS: I will be played by James Barbour in the upcoming musical, "BroadwayWorld: The Musical."
Updated On: 2/3/14 at 01:23 AM
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 08:07am
The movie is a masterpiece; the musical is a mediocrity.
rosscoe(au)
Broadway Legend
joined:8/20/05
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 08:34am
Keep the set, throw away all the chorus numbers ( they did stop the show flat )
Well I didn't want to get into it, but he's a Satanist. Every full moon he sacrifices 4 puppies to the Dark Lord and smears their blood on his paino. This should help you understand the score for Wicked a little bit more. Tazber's: Reply to Is Stephen Schwartz a Practicing Christian
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 08:44am
Others have said it, but I will echo it.

I saw the show in its out-of-town Los Angeles engagement, which ended up being the Broadway cast (after a much-publicized mess).

The show wasn't that strong. It had an over-the-top set, which was the most memorable thing about it. Truly jaw-dropping when the entire mansion interior lifted off the ground to reveal a secondary location underneath it.

Glenn Close was a big movie star and many people were curious to see if she could sing. Her singing was fine, her acting was not. That was a real surprise for me, since I expected the opposite. She was way too crazy from the beginning, leaving her very little room to take the character on a journey into madness. Her final scene on the staircase was nothing short of Grand Kabuki, so stylized it didn't even fit with "musical theatre" reality, let alone reality. "More" was not "more," in this case. It was less effective, in the end.

Still, when they announced Glenn was going to head the NY cast (and in fact, the whole cast was heading for NY, with one or two exceptions), they also announced that Faye Dunnaway would be her replacement. Faye had been a major movie star in her day, but she wasn't a box office draw (by any means) during Sunset Boulevard. The result? Ticket sales fell way off, almost immediately, for any dates after Glenn's departure.

The show was basically a "star vehicle," but not for just any star. It had to be someone the public wanted to see, because the show itself just wasn't good enough or compelling enough to bring in the crowds to see it.

Ultimately, Webber shut the Los Angeles production down when the cast moved to NY.

You had a mediocre show, with a massively impressive and expensive set, and a big star who was fine in the part, but not remotely brilliant by any means. When she left, the show struggled. Then it limped along until it closed.

Fade to black.
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AnythingGoes23
Broadway Star
joined:11/21/11
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 09:09am
The show was never really a star vehicle for Glenn Close, if it was anyone's "star vehicle" its was Patti LuPone's.

The main problem was Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was his first big musical as producer (RUG) and he made some terrible mess ups.

The leading lady fiasco where three of them ending up suing him as they has been promised tours/LA/Broadway... The running costs were ridiculous. At one point the show was spending $700,000 a week on advertising alone making a break even impossible on Broadway, same in London...

The show suffered lots of dramas backstage, if it wasn't for ALW deep pockets the production probably would have closed a lot earlier or maybe with a more savvy producer longer but basically the show was out of control.

It should have been massive but as with all ALW productions since, he is erratic and impossible to tie down to a decision, making his shows a nightmare to work on and almost all shows he has been involved with as main producer have flopped commercially wise.

The show is probably the biggest Hit/Flop ever. It won awards, it did have good houses, ran two years+ on Broadway, 3 years+ in London but lost millions, I think it barely survived it's weekly running and didn't even approach a stage or recouping.
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 09:57am
The behind the scenes drama was more interesting than the onstage drama.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 09:59am

It's my favorite Webber score?
CHURCH DOOR TOUCAN GAY MARKETING PUPPIES MUSICAL THEATER STAPLES PERIOD CUM OIL
philly03
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/07
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 10:10am
"As If We Never Said Goodbye" is one of my favorite moments in any musical, but agree that the musical as a whole could have a big rework too. I believe there was one of those actor-playing-instruments revivals in London, that similarly, did not run as long as expected because missed the grandiose of the original.
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 10:13am
Because Patti LuPone gave it the malocchio.
yr pal,
joey




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tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
Why did SUNSET BOULEVARD fail?
Posted: 2/3/14 at 10:22am
It's my favorite ALW score too.

Also, by the time it opened on Broadway the era of the big sung through musical had come to an end.
....but the world goes 'round

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