BWW Review: SUNSET BOULEVARD at Playhouse Theatre Auckland

BWW Review: SUNSET BOULEVARD at Playhouse Theatre Auckland

The New Zealand premier of Sunset Boulevard opened at the Playhouse Theatre in Glen Eden on Saturday night.

The 'red carpet' well wishes that came from Glen Close and Elaine Paige, who have both played the lead role of Norma Desmond, are testament of the bond that emulates from being part of this show combined with the totally excellent publicity team at Playhouse Theatre.

Based on Billy Wilder's classic 1950 movie with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the story is about faded silent movie star Norma Desmond and down on his luck writer Joe Gillis.

Twenty years after her last hit, silent-film legend Norma Desmond is living in her Sunset Boulevard mansion, deluded and desperate. She has the affections of her man-servant Max and her beloved chimpanzee who, at the start of the show, his just departed this mortal coil.

Joe Gillis, pursued by a pair of knee-busters who are very keen to call in a loan has unwittingly turned into Norma's driveway and she entices him with her wealth in a desperate bid to restore her youth. Soon Joe's enjoying the good life and feeling an uncomfortable sense of responsibility for the deluded Norma. He's the boy she's mad about, mad being the operative word. But wait, there's smart, poor Betty Schaeffer, who is everything Norma isn't. Betty finds that her affections have diminished for fiance Artie Green, and it is indeed Joe that she wants.

A lot of work has gone into this production, both behind the scenes and on stage. The theatre is beautiful and it's opulence of days gone by befitting this show.

The cast have an impressive collective CV of experience and talent.

Maryanne Rushton (Norma Desmond) was unfazed in the demands of her role which requires physical vocabulary, challenging vocals and many costume changes.

Bevan Williams' (Joe Gillis) performance of signature song Sunset Boulevard and the duet between him and Danielle Brookbanks (Betty Shaeffer), As if we never said Goodbye, were personal favourites.

Robin Lane's Mr Manfred was highly entertaining and Greg Patel was endearing as the suitably regimented but compassionate Max von Mayerling.

The costumes, particularly Maryanne's outfits, are stunning and accolades to the dressers who managed the many fast changes faultlessly.

Sunset Boulevard: Playhouse Theatre 15 Gleneden Road, Glen Eden.23rd September - 7th October


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From This Author Monica Moore

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