In Sunset Boulevard, audiences see that the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood has changed, but its egos and sometimes anomalous nature have stayed the same. This musical, now playing at CM PAC in Oakdale through April 15, gives us peek into the life of one of Hollywood's biggest stars as she falls into a pit of delusion.
As a show that is mostly sung, the cast of CM Pac's Sunset Boulevard delivers. Mary Ellin Kurtz was divine as Norma Desmond, a faded and eccentric silent screen actress of the 1940’s trying to transition into sound movies but having yet to succeed. One of her performance highlights was her rendition of "As If We Never Said Goodbye". She was also extraordinary in the final scene. After Joe Gillis (portrayed by Steve Cottonaro) tells Norma that her comeback film, “Salome”, will not be made, she grows furious and transcends into a state of complete fantasy.
Most interesting was how they approached the iconic car chase scene as Joe is fleeing the police. At that point, they had the curtain fall and projected the car chase from the movie adaptation onto the curtain.
This gave them the opportunity to transform the stage into Norma’s house. The grand staircase where Norma utters that immoral phrase "And now, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up" was front and center. The bottom of the staircase was Norma’s living room/entertaining area open with a very large couch and a bar area to the right.
Additionally, the company did a fantastic job with the music (book and lyrics are by Don Black and Christopher Hampton with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber). A favorite being the duet between Betty Schaefer (portrayed by Jennifer Hope) and Joe entitled “Too Much In Love To Care”. Another favorite among the audience was “Was That Really Norma Desmond” sung by Barry Johnson who portrayed Cecile B. DeMille. There was also a lot going on in some of the numbers like “Let’s Have Lunch” and “Paramount Conversations” where they were singing over one another and everyone seemed on their game.
This production of “Sunset Boulevard” at CM PAC in Oakdale, Long Island is a great incarnation that, I believe, is similar to the Broadway production. Although some may call it a staple among the regional theatre circuit, when you have a cast and music as good as this, you simply have to catch a performance.
"Sunset Boulevard" is presented by CM PAC of Oakdale, Long Island, running through April 15th. Based on the film by Billy Wilder, Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Book and Lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, Directed and Produced by Noel Ruiz, Assistant Director Joseph Campanello, Musical Direction by Gary Eisele, Lighting by Michael Kaufman, Costumes by Ronald R. Green III, Stage Manager is Dina Morgan.