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Sunset Blvd.

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TheBalladeer
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Sunset Blvd.#0
Posted: 12/10/03 at 10:40am

Which cast recording would be the best one to buy of this show if I had to? The London Recording with Patti LuPone, or the American Primere with Glenn Close? Thanks.

Cheers,
The Balladeer
"Someone tell the story...Someone sing the song...."
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re: Sunset Blvd.#1
Posted: 12/10/03 at 10:43am
The Glenn Close version is the final version of the show; it was rewritten between London and America (and no I don't recall precisely what is different, other than the final version being a darker show.)
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re: Sunset Blvd.#2
Posted: 12/10/03 at 10:45am
Be prepared--people have STRONG opinions about this. Some loved Glenn Close's "acting" as Norma. I have both recordings and my personal opinion is that Patti LuPone is so superior as a vocalist that hers is the recording to buy.
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re: re: Sunset Blvd.#3
Posted: 12/10/03 at 10:49am
My advice would be not to buy either one. It's basically the same three songs over and over.
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re: Sunset Blvd.#4
Posted: 12/10/03 at 11:00am
I'd go for the Patti LuPone version.
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re: re: Sunset Blvd.#5
Posted: 12/10/03 at 11:14am
Close was better in the theater--scary, truly without a net; on disc, superior vocalist LuPone sings the songs far more prettily, yet always sounds like LuPone more than a musicalized Norma. The Close version of the show is stronger, I believe. Not just darker, fuller. more successful. The London production was a work in progress, and Lupone wasn't encouraged to go far enough -- to move away from the Patti personna, into more dangerous character waters (just look at the difference in her Norma and Glenn's in pix.)

I don't agree it's the same 3 songs. I think if anyone other than Webber had written it, the show would've been more widely respected. The score has a real feel of Hollywood scoring in 50s films -- that full orchestral vamp that builds at the top is v. flavorful--pastiche with a potent purpose, since it invokes the era and the place. And I think the pre-Norma sections are really well crafted. All the recitative stuff is efficient and musically interesting. Joe's material is consistent with the film's wry Holden, and the act two duet with Betty has almost R&H vintage b'way sound. And let's face it, Norma's arias -- with the possible exception of the unecessarily campy "The Lady's Paying," -- is a real gift for a singing actress d'un age certain. "With One Look" holds up as one of the best characters songs ever, I believe.

By the time the show opened, Lloyd Webber had become the man to resent above all others in the theater -- he represented commerce over art, with CATS forever attached to his leg like a ball and chain, obliterating whatever his strenghts. But SUNSET -- unlike the kitsch of PHANTOM with that odd rock/synthesizer layered onto faux opera -- remains a formidable piece of work, ambitious, dark, all of a piece, and I think a show that will survive the Webber rap and rep.

Okay, naysayers; tear the above to shreds.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
Updated On: 12/10/03 at 11:14 AM
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re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#6
Posted: 12/10/03 at 11:40am
wow, elloquently put auggie. i really dont think many could disagree wtih what youve said.
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re: re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#7
Posted: 12/10/03 at 11:52am
"I think if anyone other than Webber had written it, the show would've been more widely respected."

I must agree with Auggie here. It's so trendy to hate ALW but this score really has some amazing piecies.
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re: re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#8
Posted: 12/10/03 at 11:57am
Auggie,

I couldn't tear apart what you wrote. Intellectually, I find myself agreeing with you. But viscerally, in the theatre, I thought it an over-baked bore with a few thrilling moments supplied vocally instead of dramatically (I feel the same about EVITA).

I was so put off by the endeavor that I resisted watching SUNSET BOULEVARD (the movie) till just two weeks ago.

I may be burned as a heretic, but I think the Academy gave the wrong picture the Oscar that year. As much as I enjoyed ALL ABOUT EVE, I fell in love with the ahead-of-its-time SUNSET. I never thought I could be moved by a performance that bordered on camp. What a thoroughly incredible cinematic achievement.
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re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#9
Posted: 12/10/03 at 12:25pm
I have to disagree. I actually don't hate ALW but I thought the score for to Sunset is, for the most part, dreadfully boring. Webber tends to reprise the same stuff over and over and over. I actually enjoyed the show when I saw it with Close. But the score does not stand up to repeat listenings in my opinion.
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re: re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#10
Posted: 12/10/03 at 2:45pm
Well the Glenn Close IS the final Version and basically has the ENTIRE show word for word. It IS VERY VERY GOOD and Glenn is Amazing as for the rest of the cast. But I personally prefer Patti's rendiiton as well as the original concept of the show.

I also have the canadian cast recording with Rex Smith, my favorite Joe and Dihann Carrol as Norma. The overall cd has the best orchestrations of the three and I LOVE Anita Louise Combe (Saturday Night Fever) as Betty, one of the best renditions of "Too Much In Love To Care."

But overall, I'd have to say Patti's cd. She plays more like a diva gone wrong, Glenn plays what she plays best, a scheming psychotic, and both work perfectly, yet Patti sings the score in the ORGINAL KEY.
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re: re: re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#11
Posted: 12/10/03 at 2:55pm
The CANADIAN recording?? Why wasn't I told of this? WHY WASN'T I TOLD??
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re: re: re: re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#12
Posted: 12/10/03 at 3:02pm
Actually I agree that the show is underrated and also agree that it's sort of dull. There's some good stuff in 'Sunset' and, in many ways, the good stuff is some of Webber's best good stuff (I much prefer most of this score to 'Phantom') but I also think it labors some of its melodies a bit too much and ends up being sort of maudlin. As with most sung-thru shows of this era, the good lyrics are always overshadowed by the clunky attempts at recitative.
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re: re: re: re: re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#13
Posted: 12/10/03 at 3:50pm
I really understand Robbie's thoughts -- that intellectual response vs. the more visceral one. To any show. I find that's an issue with musicals that have nothing in common -- CITY OF ANGELS and SUNDAY IN THE PARK spring to mind. I admire them, but my heart isn't engaged--or my gut.

For me, Robbie's syndrome works in reverse with ALW. I'm often more emotionally connected to Webber's work than mentally stimulated. He made this narcisist-fascist - Eva Person -- someone I actually rooted for, at least when I first heard the album (and I was only 26 when the concept album came out...) In the theater, no matter how hard Hal Prince tried to tell us more about Eva, with his Brechtian baq of tricks, we always came back to the sentimental tug provided by Webber. A poor girl aims high, achieves, gets sick, dies; her fans cry. A simple Cinderella story. The complicated political content in some of Rice's words (mostly given to Che) was submerged under much bathos and shmaltz in the music.

With Norma's story, I again connected in my gut. Many people find that connection unearned, because it's not part of Wilder's vision. Rightly or wrongtly, SB's detractors criticized the musical for "Evita"--izing a great, steely cinematic heroine, who had been brilliant drawn by Swanson, Wilder and company without a trace of sentimentality.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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re: Sunset Blvd.#14
Posted: 12/10/03 at 4:52pm
Vocally Patti Pupone is terrific and is better to listen to on disc than Glenn Close, whose stage performance probably had the edge.

It is interesting to me to read the opinions of some who regard SUNSET as a mediocre score - it just shows how people's tastes and opinions very. I have always regarded this is ALW's best score by a mile - far better to me than the bland PHANTOM score. But Phantom's phenomenal success suggests that most people disgaree with me!

(In fact the other ALW I absolutely adore are THE BEAUTIFUL GAME, WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND & TELL ME ON A SUNDAY - 3 of his least successful. ) So - what the hell do I know!? LOL

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re: Sunset Blvd.#15
Posted: 12/10/03 at 5:03pm
I have just about every conceivable recording of Sunset (singles and all)

For the complete (or as complete as it can be), I'd recommend the American (LA) cast recording, but I do agree that vocally Patti sounds a whole lot better on CD than Glenn does (as a testament to this, listen to the American Cast recording, and then watch her performance on the ALW Birthday celebration video) The London Cast recording is slightly edited and has the lamest gunshots I have ever heard.

I personally do not like the Canadian cast (although I think Rex Smith's performance is great) Diahann Carroll voice is way too low (Rex Smith sings higher than she does in "The Perfect Year" which I find really weird)

The German cast recording is well worth the money - even though I barely understand a word of German, Helen Schneider's performance is chilling.

I wish there was an Australian cast recording (loved to have heard how Hugh Jackman sang the title song) or a complete German cast recording. It would have been interesting if there was a cast recording with Betty Buckley or Elaine Paige.

In short, for the most complete recording, I'd go with the American cast recording.

Jen
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re: Sunset Blvd.#16
Posted: 12/10/03 at 5:41pm
There is also a single that was issued with a few tracks by Petula Clark. I never liked her as Norma so I don't recommend it.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
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re: re: Sunset Blvd.#17
Posted: 12/10/03 at 6:09pm
Really? I loved Petula as Norma! She was praised by LLOYD WEBBER as truly one of the ladies of the theater who in many ways embodies the role. She was so famous for so long and then obscurity and now she is trying to rise from the ashes. She is a survivor like Norma was. I saw her in london and in tour. She was amazing for someone her age.
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re: Sunset Blvd.#18
Posted: 12/10/03 at 6:17pm
I like the Patti recording best. Especially With One Look without the key change at the end. The German recording is excellent as well. I like the Canadian recording. Glen Close is probably my least favorite. Her vocals are not as strong and her Norma is so over the top, I find it annoying and more humorous and pathetic than emotionally engaging. Overall, I think the original London recording has the best all-around cast. But personally, I saw Betty Buckley and I just don't thik anyone could have topped her performance. She was so sympathetic, yet powerful and frightening. I have her 4-track release of Songs from Sunset Boulevard sold at the theatre. Patula Clark was just dreadful. The show just didn't hold up as well on tour.
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re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#19
Posted: 12/10/03 at 6:18pm
Go for the LA version. You'll get more material.
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re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#20
Posted: 12/10/03 at 6:19pm
I expected to find Petula wanting in BLOOD BROTHERS, and she knocked me out. I love it when someone is that big of a surprise. That made me curious about her Norma. Ditto, Carroll, who probably comes the closest to having the "exotic" looks that a former silent movie star would've needed.

Remember the brouhaha about Faye Dunaway being fired? Singing aside -- it may have been Rex Harrison doing Joan Crawford -- don't we all wonder what that performance would've been?
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re: re: re: Sunset Blvd.#21
Posted: 12/10/03 at 10:10pm
I also saw Petula in London and thought that she played the role "too girlish". I didn't see how she could pull the gun in the end.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.