26 years ago: The mansion had landed

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#1
Posted: 7/12/19 at 1:59pm

26 years ago this evening, the mansion of 10086 'Sunset Boulevard'  landed at the Adelphi Theater in the West End, and kicked off what would be one of the most fascinating journeys of a musical in theater history.  

The journey actually started June 29, 1993 when Barbra Streisand released her new album 'Back to Broadway' which included the two showstoppers from 'Sunset Boulevard' - 'With One Look' and 'As If We Never Said Goodbye'. The album charted at #1 the week 'Sunset Boulevard' debuted, which angered star Patti LuPone, who was promised she would debut the two songs to the world once the cast album was released a few weeks later. That only began the tsunami which would follow just about every production going forward....

 

Please post your memories in the thread if you saw Patti Lupone during her run of Sunset Boulevard! 

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#2
Posted: 7/12/19 at 2:52pm

Regrettably, I only saw the recent revival at the Palace. I would love to have seen that original set.

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#3
Posted: 7/12/19 at 2:59pm

The original set was breath-taking (especially when the mansion lands on the the stage).  I saw it in NYC back in August, 1996 with Buckley in the role.  

The scaled back version at the Palace didn't do it for me, but I realized my focus was on the characters and not their surroundings (in 1996 my focus shifted between the characters and the setting). I appreciated the musical and the talent more in 2018 than in '96.

The worst setting had to be the one on tour in the US with Petula Clark back in 1998. Horrible in every way. 

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#4
Posted: 7/12/19 at 3:15pm

I flew over to see LuPone in her final week. Saw the show twice once earlier in the week and her final performance. Final was interesting. The scene when the mansion comes down wasn't happening. A few minutes of an empty stage. An announcement comes over the house saying they were having technical difficulties and the show would continue. A few more minutes and another annoucnement that still having difficulties and that the bar was open and drinks were on the house. I think maybe 30 or so minutes and the show resumes. LuPone makes her entrance to thunderous applause. One scene when she was going up the staircase she was banging her bracelets on the bannister. 

With One Look amazing applause. As If We Never Said Goodbye as she was singing she was touching the faces of everyone or close to everyone on the stage. Huge standing ovation. She need the show with a song see sings a lot called 100 years. I remember her yelling I Love London. Amazing night. 

"I hope your Fanny is bigger than my Peter." Mary Martin to Ezio Pinza opening night of Fanny.
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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#5
Posted: 7/12/19 at 3:26pm

For those curious on ones, here’s the 15-minute B-Roll of LuPone in the World Premiere production of SUNSET BLVD:  

 

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#6
Posted: 7/12/19 at 3:28pm

I saw the original on Broadway multiple times with Glenn Close and Betty Buckley.  

I also won a stage tour from BC/EFA, and standing on that huge stage looking out at the empty theater with the mansion hanging over head was awe inspiring.

I also the show in Toronto with Diahann Carroll and Rex smith and was disappointed in both their performances. 

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#7
Posted: 7/12/19 at 10:36pm

I absolutely HATED the set! From the moment it starts popping up and down like a bad elevator any thinking viewer has to be reminded the "mansion" is made of plywood, not marble.

Likewise, PHANTOM has several coups du teatre that dazzle us visually while knocking us out of the world of the play.

A dreadful trend of the 1980s and 90s that I would like to see left behind us.

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#8
Posted: 7/12/19 at 10:47pm

I could give a rat’s ass about people’s rants about those long-gone spectacles but this is the s**t I want to see on a Broadway stage with the price of tickets today:

26 years ago: The mansion had landed

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#9
Posted: 7/12/19 at 11:48pm

I saw the London production twice - one with Betty Buckley as Norma and the other with Elaine Paige taking over the role. In both cases, John Barrowman played the role of Joe Gillis. Remarkable production! The score became one of my favorite Lloyd-Webber's musical works. I also watched the film noir classic by Billy Wilder and was surprised to note how much of that movie was incorporated into the musical adaptation, esp on the dialog aspects ( becoming songs and recitatives in the stage play).

Beyond the original London and Broadway productions, another production was launched in the same spectacular way in Australia.  It coincided with a big refurbishing of a prestigious film palace, the Regent, and the whole process of the show going through the process of becoming a full-pledged stage production was recorded in this documentary ( Sunset Blvd and The Palace of Dreams).  Excellent snippets of the casting and rehearsal process, the putting together of the monumental sets and the costumes, the side stories, commentaries from ALWebber and Trevor Nunn. Sadly, the production had its share of tragic events, too ( the abrupt closure of the production relating to the personal problems of the female lead and the fatal accident of one member of the major creative team).  Debra Byrne and Hugh Jackman star in the production. 

Also, not a perfect upload - there are gaps - just move the clip forward.

 

 

Updated On: 7/12/19 at 11:48 PM
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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#10
Posted: 7/13/19 at 12:40am
I saw Elaine Paige on Broadway, about a week before it closed. The show has its flaws (it would work so much better as a chamber piece with no chorus) but it has a good score and of course it’s a fascinating story.

A few year ago I saw a rare regional production at Drury Lane near Chicago. The set was pretty simple and it worked just fine that way.
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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#11
Posted: 7/13/19 at 2:16am

BrodyFosse123 said: "I could give a rat’s ass about people’s rantsabout those long-gone spectacles but this is the s**tI want to see on a Broadway stage with the price of tickets today:

26 years ago: The mansion had landed
"

Brody, I agree the set is absolutely gorgeous! The problem to me is the rising and falling, which only makes it look fake. They would have done better to leave room for a show curtain and stage the few non-mansion scenes "in one".

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#12
Posted: 7/13/19 at 4:44am

I agree- making that set move visibly made it appear so much less substantial!

The show's pace is uneven and has several areas that feel like padding.  Musically, it's pretty, but I never feel like it illuminates the thoughts or feelings of the characters in anything more than a superficial way.

I MUCH preferred 'Aspects of Love'.

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#13
Posted: 7/13/19 at 12:59pm

devonian.t said: "I MUCH preferred 'Aspects of Love'."

Aspects of Love is a beautiful score. Maria Björnson's scenery also looked gorgeous. It's a shame the show wasn't able to match the success of some of Webber's other shows. I think some people may have been turned off by the underage romance.

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#14
Posted: 7/13/19 at 3:33pm

BrodyFosse123 said: "For those curious on ones, here’s the 15-minute B-Roll ofLuPone in theWorld Premiere production of SUNSET BLVD:

 

"

Thank You so much for this - I've never seen this before.  Oh, how I wish I could've seen LuPone in this! Her movements, her flow, her command of the character - and the voice! I much prefer Anderson over any other 'Joe' as well.  What a beautiful set. 

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#15
Posted: 7/13/19 at 4:20pm

Would have loved to have seen Cher do it. Apparently she was asked to open the Toronto company.

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#16
Posted: 7/13/19 at 4:42pm

Tag said: "Would have loved to have seen Cher do it. Apparently she was asked to open the Toronto company."

Actually, Cher was first approached to replace Close when she was leaving the L.A. production.  All before Dunaway.  Cher chose not to do it but did become interested when Buckley was ending her run in the Broadway production.  People have confirmed Cher did audition in full costume and on the set at the Minskoff Theatre and ALW was going to lower the keys to suit her voice but then Buckley extended and RUG reconsidered their original offer and Cher declined.  Cher was never considered for the Toronto production.  

 

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#17
Posted: 7/13/19 at 5:42pm

Oh man. Somewhere in the RUG archives might be a video of Cher on the mansion set singing "With One Look" in full costume?

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#18
Posted: 7/13/19 at 11:14pm

Cher was never considered for the Toronto production. 

A well regarded poster here, said she was asked to open the Toronto production, and wanted to, but couldn't because she was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#19
Posted: 7/14/19 at 3:44pm

I never heard that Cher was to open in Toronto. Diahann Carroll had written in her memoir a few years ago that she was called in to audition for LA, but they made her a much better offer (which included not dealing with ALW on a regular basis) to open the show in Toronto. She accepted.

I do recall reading from many sources that ALW first asked Diana Ross to replace Close just days after he watched her in the ABC movie 'Out of Darkness' (which aired in early 1994). Ross won rave reviews for her role in the movie, and impressed Webber. Ross was eager to star in an ALW musical, and began negotiations immediately. One thing Ross wanted in her contract was to follow Close to B'way -  supposedly, after a lot of haggling (and impressed by her auditions) , ALW finally agreed.  What ended negotiations was Ross' salary - she wanted the full salary offered, but only wanted to do 4 weekend shows and let her understudy do the remaining shows on the schedule (even in NY). THAT was something ALW wouldn't give in to  - and negotiations came to an end. (In interviews since, Ross has just said they couldn't agree on a salary).

After Ross' negotiations ended, supposedly ALW offered the role to  such diverse actresses as Michelle Lee (who had just finished 'Knots Landing'26 years ago: The mansion had landed, Carroll, Raquel Welch (yes, Raquel Welch), and finally Dunaway who accepted the end of  March, 1994.

 

As for Cher, ALW supposedly first asked her to replace Buckley in early  Spring of 1996, but negotiations didn't go far due to her commitment of promoting her new album ('It's A Man's World'26 years ago: The mansion had landed. They resumed negotiations in mid-summer, which is when she auditioned in costume (according to many sources) and he was impressed with her. Yet they could not agree on a salary and 'time off'. When asked about this in interviews, Cher responded 'ALW was too cheap - he couldn't afford me!' 

Once Cher dropped out of negotiations, ALW was still looking for a 'name' to take the role and boost the box office. Supposedly, the list of actresses he offered the role to included: Meryl Streep, Liza, Olivia Newton-John, Rita Moreno, Shirley Jones, and TV stars Cybil Shepherd, Susan Lucci, Tyne Daly, Florence Henderson,  Barbara Eden, Joan Collins, and Kathie Lee Gifford*. He also offered the role to B'way stars Bernadette Peters and Jennifer Holliday. He settled with Elaine Paige.  

 

A lot of this info was on a website in England which was devoted to ALW and each musical. I don't think it exists any longer (I believe it was called 'tiretracks' or something like that - does this sound familiar?)..

 

*Gifford supposedly was so interested in taking the role, she offered to leave 'Regis and Kathie Lee' for six months with no pay, and add 6 extra months - or longer - to her contract which was expiring in 1999. ABC said no - and Gifford couldn't wait to leave the network. Later in interviews, she said she would never work for ABC again (and she wouldn't join 'The View' when Star Jones left in 2006) because they cost her 'the role of a lifetime'.   

Updated On: 7/15/19 at 03:44 PM
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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#20
Posted: 7/14/19 at 11:25pm

CATSNYrevival said: "Aspects of Love is a beautifulscore.Maria Björnson's sceneryalso looked gorgeous. It's a shame the show wasn't able to match the success of some of Webber's other shows. I think some people may have been turned off by the underage romance."

Not just that one of the potential romances was with an underage girl, but that underage girl was also the leading male's cousin. For as beautiful as portions of that score are, the story it's attached to is more like something you'd see on Days of Our Lives

Did you know that every day Mexican gays cross our borders and unplug our brain-dead ladies?
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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#21
Posted: 7/15/19 at 4:04pm

AEA AGMA SM said: "Not just that one of the potential romances was with an underage girl, but that underage girl was also the leading male's cousin. For as beautiful as portions of that score are, the story it's attached to is more like something you'd see onDays of Our Lives."

Or--based entirely on your description--in any novel from the 19th century.

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#22
Posted: 7/17/19 at 7:26pm

Speaking of SUNSET BOULEVARD, "Happy 84th Birthday" to actress DIahann Carroll ! Carroll played Norma in 1995, during the Toronto run. 

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#23
Posted: 9/1/19 at 11:57pm

So hadn't been on these boards in the last few weeks and was doing a search to see if any updates on the Movie-musical had popped up and stumbled on here...

So many memories.  I still am unsure how/why Sunset Blvd holds such a huge place in my mind and heart.  I'm not a rabid musical theatre fan (don't mean that in a derogatory way)  In fact, I haven't seen a musical since the Sunset revival closed (which I saw 5 times).  Probably part of the reason was Aspects of Love was the first musical I ever saw.  My parents wanted me to "broaden my horizons" and see a Broadway show while I was in High School (I could pick whatever I wanted).  And honestly the cheezy ads with the 30 second clip of Love Changes everything sounded nice.  Long story short - those 2 and a half hours flew for me.  I loved every single moment of that score and immediately bought the recording on cassette tapes that they had to be replaced 3 times.

I guess that's what peaked my interest.  Reading that this composer guy was working on adapting Sunset Blvd.  Didn't even know that film, so I rented it and was curious.  And reading every little bit of news in those years of waiting (in the meantime seeing Phantom, Evita, Joseph, JCS) I was so excited for this.  

Smiling thinking about those early internet days - going to the newsstand to read the World Premiere had to be delayed 2 weeks (and the very special weekly Variety edition to commemorate it would be delayed as well... what a long summer that made)  Buying my first Barbara Streisand album just to finally hear something from the score and listening to those tunes over and over and over - 

When the World Premiere came and went with somewhat lukewarm reviews, I got upset but figured ALW would not have a failure (they were rare for him at that time) with such a high profile thing.   Then the cast recording was coming out in August - but only in the UK!  (Really pre-Internet, what a world)

I had checked and Colony Records had the 2 cd's for easily over $100.  For a poor college student - as desperate as I was - I wasn't that stupid (and I was poor).  I had searched stores in Philly and no luck.  One day, I just stopped by with friends to a hole in the wall CD shop near my college in Allentown PA called "toones" that was known to carry import CD's.  There it was "Sunset Blvd" - for $30.  I couldn't believe it.  It was the longest 15 minute car ride back to my dorm room.  

That remains one of the best days in my college memory - literally sitting there and listening to the entire score from beginning to end and then starting all over again.

I don't ever remember having an experience with a musical score like that... that I could just instantly become a favorite that 26 years later I still listen to over and over again.  The recent revival while definitely missing the amazing sets - having a 40 piece orchestra and that incredible cast - seeing it 5 times wasn't enough :)  

Thanks for reading my ramblings - lots of great memories.  Even all the drama off stage only made the eventual NY bow more dramatic for me.  (Saw it 8 times on Broadway - 2 with each leading lady, 2 with Karen Mason and one of those times was Closing Night on Broadway in the very last row of the balcony)  I only wish ALW had been able to get Diana Ross or Cher in Broadway to keep that crazy-ass circus in and out of the theatre going for awhile longer.  Betty Buckley was amazing - but those two would've been lightning to the box office for sure.

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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#24
Posted: 9/2/19 at 1:03am

I saw each of the London Normas (at least once) during those glorious days, but Patti was far and away my favourite. Really missed the look and sound of the show once they retooled it for Betty Buckley/John Barrowman. Of the three times I saw Patti I will cherish her Charlie Chaplin routine mid-song in The Lady’s Paying which didn't make it past previews - and her stunning final “With One Look” reprise in that original key (mercifully giving the show the button it needed) which was added in those early previews after the version preserved on the cast recording was met with a muted response at the Adelphi. Such a shame they didn’t incorporate that into the London album before it was released.

Kevin Anderson was the perfect Joe from the get go, but his vocals improved so much as the run went on I feel the London recording hardly does him justice.  Was so sad that he wasn’t there the full first year. I’m not sure what the story was there but it’s one more chapter in the Sunset Political Dumpster Fire for sure.

Updated On: 9/2/19 at 01:03 AM
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26 years ago: The mansion had landed#25
Posted: 9/2/19 at 1:40am

ukpuppetboy said: "I saw each of the London Normas (at least once) during those glorious days, but Patti was far and away my favourite. Really missed the look and sound of the show once they retooled it for Betty Buckley/John Barrowman. Of the three times I saw Patti I will cherish her Charlie Chaplin routine mid-song in The Lady’s Paying which didn't make it past previews - and her stunning final “With One Look” reprisein that original key (mercifully givingthe show the button it needed) which wasadded in those early previewsafter theversionpreserved on the cast recording was met with a muted responseat the Adelphi. Such ashame they didn’t incorporate that into the London album before it was released.

Kevin Anderson was the perfect Joe from the get go, but his vocals improved so much as the run went on I feel the London recording hardly does him justice. Was so sad that hewasn’t there the full first year. I’m not sure what the story was there but it’s one more chapter in the Sunset Political Dumpster Fire for sure.
"

If I remember correctly, when Patti's contract was broken for NY  - Anderson wanted out immediately.  I think the whole debacle just got to him.  It was "Is it Glen or Patti" and there was never a mention about Anderson who was part of the package from the get go (had played Sydmonton and then was supposed to do London and NY)
Of all the Joe's - his recorded version is my favorite.  Alan Campbell never fit the bill for me.  Not sure why, but his voice always sounded kind of weird.  Anderson seemed natural and aloof enough for the role.  Would have loved to have seen him.

And totally agree with you. The "World Premiere Recording" was really a terribly produced recording.  I think by the time they finished recording, the ending had already been changed.  But they incorporated a lot from Sydmonton (I was never sure if they actually used the recording itself from Sydmonton or just the orchestrations).  

Man I wish that ALW would do part II of Unmasked and really get into all the Sunset stuff