"Sunset Boulevard" on Hollywood Boulevard
rousing success of last years Actor's Fund special event, an all-star reading
of "All About Eve," last night at
Widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, "Sunset Boulevard" weaves the tale of a struggling screenwriter, Joe Gillis, who is taken in by a faded silent film star, Norma Desmond. What first begins as a business arrangement to aide the "return" of Desmond to the screen, quickly descends into a tragedy of Greek proportions, as Norma begins to fall for the younger man, and slowly constricts her python like grip on Gillis with disastrous results for all involved.
Though "Sunset Boulevard" lost out on the Best Picture Oscar to "All About Eve," the film is still legendary for its incredible screenplay with some of the best movie one-liners in history, and deft direction by Billy Wilder, not to mention the intense secrecy the film was shot under given its not so kind look at how Hollywood treated its discarded silent film stars.
Pantages Theatre, built in 1930 in the heart of
Bringing the screenplay to life was a collection of some of today's hottest film, TV and theatre stars (and sometimes stars who have excelled in all three mediums). The program of actors read like a who's who in entertainment, complete with Academy Award, Tony and Emmy winners.
to any production of "Sunset Boulevard," whether the film, the musical or in
this staged reading, is the casting of Norma Desmond, the silent film star
forgotten by Hollywood, hoping for a comeback - opps, I mean 'return'. Lucky for the audience, Angelica Huston took
on the role with gusto and aplomb. From
her first off-stage utterance of "You there, why are you so late," her voice
unmistakable, she had the audience in the palm of her hand, seemingly destined
to play the role. She did not
disappoint, and if anything, raised the bar when she glided on stage, as if
floating, in a long sweeping black dress, covered, aptly, in shimmering
diamonds. The rapturous applause which
accompanied her entrance concurred that she was not Angelica Huston she WAS
Norma Desmond. She commanded the stage
every time she was on it, and was so powerful in her performance, you felt her
presence even when she was off-stage. Careful not to play her as a classic camp figure, but also not falling into
the trap of portraying Norma as crazy, Ms. Huston was magnificent in every way,
and ended the evening, breaking your heart, with one of the most classic final
lines in motion picture in history, "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up,"
which instantly has the crowd on its feet.
They say there is no culture in LA (well aside from what's in yogurt), but he is here to prove that axiom wrong. Anxious to begin covering the state of theatre here in the Southland (that's what the local news likes to call Southern California), neither earthquakes, fires, mudslides, nor high-speed freeway chases will keep him from his appointed rounds of giving you the scoop on the Left Coast theatre happenings!
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