Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready for My Close-Up: Sunset Boulevard Opens at the Princess Theatre

Sunset Boulevard brings the golden age of Hollywood to Melbourne’s Princess Theatre. The lavish musical production attracted a glittering opening night crowd decked out in rhinestones, feathers, and sequins. There was enough bling in the audience to rival the luxurious costumes adorning leading lady, Sarah Brightman.

Brightman stars as Norma Desmond, an aging star of the silent film era. Discarded by Hollywood thanks to the advent of ‘talkies,’ Desmond dreams of her next big film. Brightman brings serious star-power to the production. She originated the role of Christine in Phantom of the Opera and claims the title of the world’s best-selling soprano. Sunset Boulevard marks her first return to the stage in over 30 years and she commands the stage as the tragic and legendary Norma Desmond.

Tim Draxl plays opposite Brightman as Joe Gillis – a flawed but sympathetic Hollywood script writer. (Fun fact, the role of Joe Gillis was last played on stage in Australia by Hugh Jackman in 1996.) Draxl’s acting chops are evident, serving as a foil to the larger-than-life Norma Desmond.

With the Melbourne winter malaise setting it, I recommend taking a 2 hour and forty minute trip to Hollywood via the Princess Theatre. Sunset Boulevard delivers drama, passion, and big production values. Grand scenic sets glide across the stage, effortlessly transitioning from Desmond’s decadent but decaying mansion to backlot film studios. A talented ensemble performs big choreographed dance numbers. There’s the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, twangy American accents, and a peak at its dark underbelly. If I was being uncouth, I’d call it BDE in musical form.

Based on the 1950 film noir, the musical version of Sunset Boulevard has a long history of captivating audiences with its dark take on fame ambition and filmmaking. Opening in 1993, it went on to win six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original, Score and Best Book.

Here in Oz, Opera Australia and GWB Entertainment bring Sunset Boulevard to Australian audiences for the first time in nearly thirty years.  After opening in Melbourne, the musical will transfer to the Sydney Opera house in August. But I’d just like to note we have Sunset Boulevard here in Victoria first.

– Jenny
Jenny S. is an event adventurer. When she’s not attending live shows, you can find her sampling the latest craft beer or sipping a creative cocktail.
Sunset Boulevard runs until 21 May – 11 August 2024 at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne. (Two hours and forty minutes, including intermission). A season at the Sydney Opera House will follow from August 28. Buy tickets now.

Image credit: Daniel Boud
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Lucky Star Media and Romina Favero PR