Review: Sunset Boulevard

PURE GOLD:  Sunset Boulevard is at Bradford Alhambra this week.
PURE GOLD: Sunset Boulevard is at Bradford Alhambra this week.
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It is very rare these days to see musicals on tour that deliver five star excellence from both the cast and creatives, but Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard certainly does that.

Based on Billy Wilder’s 1950’s award-winning film, it tells the story of Norma Desmond, a faded star of silent films, a recluse in her once spectacular mansion on Sunset Boulevard. She meets a down-on-his-luck screenwriter, Joe Gillis, who sees an opportunity to solve his money problems by offering to help her with a script.

Their evolving relationship sets them on a course towards jealousy, insanity and murder. Nikolai Foster’s production is seamless and visually spectacular evoking vintage Hollywood glamour with film clips, high platforms and staircases and an ingenious mix of cinematic and mood lighting.

Add to this Adrian Kirk’s brilliant control of the 16-piece orchestra and you have a theatrical triumph in the making.

But it’s Ria Jones as Norma who drives Sunset Boulvebard. She has an unbelievable stage presence, a brilliant range of convincing emotions and a rich controlled voice that brings the house down with As If We Ever Say Goodbye and With One Look. Hardly ever off stage Danny Mac’s Joe is charismatic and believable. He sings effortlessly and dances, as you’d expect a Strictly star to. It’s a show that is pure gold.

Bradford Alhambra, to February 10.