Sunset Boulevard (1993 Original London Cast) Cast Recording
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I'd always known that Patti LuPone was the first actress to play Norma Desmond, the original star of the successful West End version. I am a die-hard fan of Ms. LuPone, but I had never heard her sing this role. I'm sure most of you are aware of the story behind the transfer of this show from London to America: Patti was under contract to play Norma on Broadway, opposite George Hearn and Alan Campbell. At the last minute, she was paid one million dollars to be released from her contract, to make way for Glenn Close, a more bankable actress, to assume the role. Ms. Close was excellent in the role (I saw her twice in NY), but Ms. LuPone really was the real deal!
From the moment she enters the show, with the gorgeous and eery ballad "Surrender", Patti owns the stage. She gives all of her considerable talent to Norma Desmond, which is not an easy thing to do. The songs on this album are simply beautiful, and are among Sir Andrew's best.
It's a shame that American audiences were not given the chance to see Patti LuPone in this role. I think she would have blown us away.
All the tweaking and tightening paid off, it seems. Each change is a major improvement, and the score - and show - that premiered in Los Angeles in 1995 starring Glenn Close is far superior to the one seen by London audiences almost two years earlier. The American Premiere Recording benefits from those improvements, and boasts heightened production values that deliver all the necessary panache of a Broadway cast recording without ever descending to the silliness or slickness of pop opera. Sunset Boulevard remains musical theater in every sense of the word.
So, if the American recording is so vastly improved over this one, why even bother with it? Perhaps the answer lies in the freshness and naivety of a new score - the thrill of the gamble: will this show become the stuff of Broadway legend, or a soon-to-be-forgotten flop? There's only one chance at this kind of excitement; once the singers know they're recording a hit, the fragile bubble is burst. There may be subsequent recordings that far outshine the original, but there's still only ONE original. This World Premiere Recording of Sunset Boulevard suffers from a score that still needed work, a horrid supporting cast, muddled sound mixing in many places, and lack of completeness.Read more ›
Other colourful characters are Norma Desmond's bleak but likable Butler, Max von Mayerling (Daniel Benzali), Joe's best buddy Artie Green and his gal-pal Betty Schaeffer (Meredith Braun). Anyone who has ever seen the film knows that it ends tragically.
"Sunset Boulevard" is a great story and I think Andrew Lloyd Webber did a fantastic job musically in capturing the essence of Hollywood of the 1950's. The music is glamorous, tragic and deeply moving; it spawned 2 big numbers- the haunting "With One Look" and "As If We Never Said Good-bye". But these two songs are far from being the only good songs in the bunch.
The musical opens with the clumsy "Let's Have Lunch". Despite the repetitive lyrics, the song features energetic performances and an infectious melody. The version presented here is a bit choppy (the American Premiere recording starring Glen Close and Alan Campbell has a far more polished and complete version of this song). The song deserved better treatment here and it is one of the more haphazardly edited songs in this recording.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great show. This recording is good because of Patti LaPone and Kevin Anderson. It's also one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's best works.Published 18 days ago by Marc Holmes
A wonderful show, every bit as good as I remembered itl The music is beautiful and the story classic.Published 8 months ago by Sandra Frederikson
I was living in Paris from 1993-94 as an expatriate. Not being fluent in french I listened to BBC and my own tapes when I was in my apartment. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Maxine36
While parts of this album is worthwhile it was two major flaws. Firstly, it is woefully incomplete. At times the narrative suffers from the cuts. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Wurmund
I bought this for a gift, but the transaction was very smooth. And I was pleased.will buy again!Published 14 months ago by Juan C. Cruz