a musical in 2 acts, 21 scenes: Libretto by Don Black and Christopher Hampton; based on the film and screenplay Sunset Boulevard by Billy Wilder: Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Adelphi Theatre, London - 12 July, 1993 (1529 perfs)
Shubert Theatre, Los Angeles - 9 December, 1993 (369 perfs)
Minskoff Theatre, New York - 17 November, 1994 (977 perfs)
Joe Gillis hasn't had much success as a screen writer. His car runs out of petrol on Sunset Boulevard, outside the mansion owned by former silent film star, Norma Desmond.
Repossession agents are in hot pursuit of him and his car. He hides the car in the garage and asks if he can phone his friends. But Miss Desmond has another, better, idea. She wants to make a screen comeback. He's a writer, perhaps he can edit her self-penned script, Salome, ready for presentation to Cecil B. de Mille. He can live at the mansion too, all expenses paid. That seems fine. But there's a complication. When he goes back to the studio in an attempt to borrow money, he meets young Betty Schaefer, who subsequently cooperates on another script with him - one of his own. And Norma is jealous.
Back at the mansion, Joe realises that Norma has fallen in love with him. She lavishes expensive gifts on him and attempts suicide when he goes out to a party. Joe finishes the script and Norma prepares to sally forth to present it to de Mille. A phone call from the studio invites her to visit, but all they want is the use of her car for a film. Max, her major-domo (and ex-husband), conceals this from her. Norma goes to the studio and de Mille greets her, but is non-committal on her script. Norma discovers Joe is having a relationship with Betty, and phones her. Joe, snatching the receiver from Norma, invites her over to see how he's living. When Betty arrives, Joe announces he's leaving with her. Norma is beside herself with rage and grief. She shoots Joe dead. Now totally beyond the bounds of reality, she mistakes the arriving police who have come to arrest her for studio executives. She's ready for her close up, Mr de Mille.
Cast of Characters:
Norma Desmond - a star of the silent screen
Joe Gillis - a young screenwriter
Max von Mayerling - Norma's Major-Domo
Betty Schaefer - a secretary at Paramount
Cecil B. DeMille - Film Director
First Harem Girl, Beautician, Young Writer, Salesman, DeMille's Assistant, Heather, Second Masseuse, Cliff, Salesman, Young Guard, Third Harem Girl (Jean), Beautician, Hedy Lamarr, Morino, Salesman, Hog Eye, Lisa, Doctor, First Financeman, Film Actor, Salesman, Katherine, Psychiatrist, Second Harem Girl, Beautician, Mary, First Masseuse, Sheldrake, Police Chief, John, Salesman, Victor Mature, Myron, Manfred, Second Financeman, Salesman, Party Guest, Jonesy, Sammy, Salesman, Choreographer, Salesman, Joanna, Astrologer
- Prologue - Joe
- Let's Have Lunch - Joe, Ensemble
- Surrender - Norma
- With One Look - Norma
- Salome - Norma, Joe
- The Greatest Star of All - Max
- Every Movie's a Circus - Joe, Betty, Artie, Ensemble
- Girl Meets Boy - Joe, Betty
- New Ways to Dream - Norma
- The Lady's Paying - Myron, Norma, Joe, Salesmen
- The Perfect Year - Norma, Joe
- This Time Next Year - Joe, Betty, Artie, Ensemble
- Sunset Boulevard - Joe
- The Perfect Year (reprise) - Norma
- As If We Never Said Goodbye - Norma
- Surrender (reprise) - De Mille
- Girl Meets Boy (reprise) - Betty, Joe
- Eternal Youth Is Worth a Little Suffering - Norma's Consultants
- Too Much in Love to Care - Betty, Joe
- New Ways to Dream (reprise) - Max
- Sunset Boulevard (reprise) - Joe, Betty
- The Greatest Star of All (reprise) - Max, Norma
- Surrender (reprise) - Norma
Scenes and settings:
The action takes place in Los Angeles, 1949-1950.
Scene 1: Exterior/Dawn, the House on Sunset.
Scene 2: Exterior/Day, Paramount Studios.
Scene 3: Exterior/Day, on the road.
Scene 4: Exterior/Day, the Garage on Sunset.
Scene 5: Interior/Day and Evening, the house on Sunset.
Scene 6: Interior/Night, Norma's Guest House.
Scene 7: Interior/Evening, Schwab's Drugstore.
Scene 8: Exterior/Night, the Terrace on Sunset.
Scene 9: Interior/Evening, the House on Sunset.
Scene 10: Interior/Day, the House on Sunset.
Scene 11: Interior/Night, the House on Sunset.
Scene 12: Interior/Night, Artie Green's Apartment.
Scene 13: Interior/Night, the House on Sunset.
Scene 1: Exterior/Day, Norma's Swimming Pool.
Scene 2: Exterior/Day, Paramount Studio.
Scene 3: Interior/Night, Betty's office at Paramount.
Scene 4: Interior/Day, the House on Sunset.
Scene 5: Interior/Exterior/Night, Betty's office/Paramount backlot.
Scene 6: Exterior/Night, the House on Sunset.
Scene 7: Exterior/Interior/Night, the House on Sunset.
Scene 8: Exterior/Interior/Dawn, the House on Sunset.