Now playing in London and headed for Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest triumph is based on Billy Wilder's classic film.
Certain moments in Sunset Boulevard
may convince you that it's Andrew Lloyd Webber's most satisfying score. The dark opening theme recalls Franz Waxman, while throughout the lush strings perfectly evoke old Hollywood, occasionally broken by wonderfully jazzy interludes. The melodies of the two big songs, "With One Look" and "As if We Never Said Goodbye," wind their way into your brain in the best Lloyd Webber way (even if the latter, Norma Desmond's ode to her fans, is a little too reminiscent of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina"), "The Perfect Year" is a lovely, stately dance, and "Too Much in Love to Care" is a nice romantic duet between Kevin Anderson and Meredith Braun. On the other hand, the music seems repetitive even by Lloyd Webber standards, with fewer than a dozen themes recycled over the set's 96 minutes, and the lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton are passable at best, predictable at worst. In the London cast of this adaptation of Billy Wilder's 1950 film, Patti LuPone
gives a strong lead performance, coloring her big voice with supreme self-importance. She was under contract to fill the role in the subsequent U.S. premiere
, but was dropped in favor of Glenn Close, reportedly at the insistence of the show's backers. The booklet includes photos, full lyrics, and an edited version of the dialogue. --David Horiuchi