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Guest Blog: Alex Parker On Bringing SUNSET BOULEVARD to the Royal Albert Hall


The musical concert stars Mazz Murray

Guest Blog: Alex Parker On Bringing SUNSET BOULEVARD to the Royal Albert Hall

In the summer of 2020, it was announced that performances were allowed to recommence for the first time since lockdown, on the proviso that they were outdoors and to a socially distanced audience.

Desperate to literally just do SOMETHING, Quick Fantastic sought the rights out to do A Little Night Music in concert for one night only outdoors at Holland Park to an audience of 200. What was going to be interesting was to see if anyone would actually come as naturally people were still very nervous to mix with others at that point. However, we sold out within minutes, which most importantly suggested people were ready, or at least beginning to be ready, to come back to the theatre.

Incidentally, the space that the concert played was an outdoor facade of a country house. A Little Night Music being set in the gardens of a country house for part of the show meant that it almost felt like a site-specific production at times. That got me thinking about what other shows and spaces might work well for this combination.

As we hit the autumn of 2020, performances were allowed to proceed indoors - still socially distanced - but this opened up a whole new possibility in terms of venue options.

I have been a fan of Sunset Boulevard for as long as I remember. I remember coming home from swimming club when I was 11, and in the car "As If We Never Said Goodbye" came on the radio, in this instance being sung by Petula Clark. I was absolutely enthralled for the entirety of it, and felt it was so magical, so moving and so musically breathtaking. Over time I later became familiar with the whole score and I just couldn't stop thinking about it and how much it transported me to the world that it was trying to depict.

It's no secret that obtaining the rights to do a popular and much revered show for one night only in concert is very difficult. There are frequently many hoops to jump through, and more often than not, the application is rejected. However, short runs and concerts were all that were going to be viable during the early stages of opening things up, and it was going to be these well-known titles that would entice people back to the theatre.

Guest Blog: Alex Parker On Bringing SUNSET BOULEVARD to the Royal Albert Hall I thought that there was no harm in at least asking the question, and fortunately the lovely folk at the Really Useful Group gave me a chance to get across my proposal. I was aware of the recently refurbished Alexandra Palace Theatre and its deliberately dilapidated look reminded me of an old movie studio. This seemed the perfect setting for a Sunset Boulevard concert.

There was a date free in October 2020, and the Really Useful Group were going to let us do the concert. Naturally, they asked who we had in mind for Norma Desmond. Our first choice was always Mazz Murray. She oozes class, experience, beauty, star quality and a voice unlike anyone else. Straight off of that call with RUG, I called her and she was game. We were a go-er!

We assembled the rest of the company and tickets went on sale. But then rumours of another lockdown were spreading. As cases rose and the concert got closer, my producer fear was starting to set in. Were people going to come? Was it safe to be going ahead with something? What if someone in the cast go coronavirus and we were shut down?

It felt too risky, and too much. It was so painful, but I decided to postpone the concert. To when, I didn't know, but what was key is that it wasn't a cancellation, it was a postponement. I was absolutely determined this was going to happen - we got this far, we weren't going to give up now.

We announced two further dates: one in February 2021, and then one in April 2021. Well, we all know what the state of play was here then - they were postponed.

Finally a date in June was booked in. Keeping every finger crossed, we got there and we made it. For two glorious concert performances, the concert happened. There was something about having to wait so long to do it that made it even more special and memorable. The day was amazing and the response was magical.

Mazz is an incredibly determined and inspiring person. The combination of these two traits were infectious to me and we were both determined to make this happen again - bigger, and hopefully better! It was Mazz who had invited Alpha to watch the Ally Pally concert and it was Mazz who got us that meeting. And once a date had been set at the hall, the rest is history.

Here we are, at the Royal Albert Hall, performing Sunset Boulevard. This really is a dream come true.

Sunset Boulevard at the Royal Albert Hall on 3 December - book tickets here

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