Sunset Blvd.

Date 21st February 2015
Society The Burton Musical Theatre Company
Venue De Ferrers Academy, Burton-On-Trent
Type of Production Musical
Director Steven Foster
Musical Director David Blackwell

Report

Author: Rachel Millar

Burton & District Operatic Society            Sunset Blvd.                  17th-21st February 2015

‘Mainland UK amateur premiere’. How wonderful to be the group to stage this and what a great job they did too. It was my first visit to this group and my first time seeing Sunset Boulevard so I was just a little bit excited.

I did wonder what facilities a school hall could boast and I was pleasantly surprised by the set up. The stage, although quite small, was used to its full potential and some very clever set design and construction meant the space was used well and slick scene changes could take place. I particularly liked Norma’s house, so detailed, and the staircase was a fantastic addition. I thought the use of the film projections was a nice touch. Costumes fitted the era and Norma’s wardrobe was just stunning.

Although the orchestra was at the front of the stage they were in no way intrusive and created a very professional sound under the direction of David Blackwell.

There wasn’t a huge amount for the company to do in this show but what they did was to a good standard both vocally and visually. All were engaged and handled some very tricky music, very well.

This is not a laugh a minute show, with jazzy dance numbers and a cheesy storyline. It can be a bit hard work at times and because it is mainly sung through, with little spoken dialogue, an audience has to concentrate hard to follow the story. I must congratulate the director and the cast for doing everything possible to keep it clear and running smoothly, not an easy job!

Sharon Plummer as Norma Desmond definitely shone in this production, great characterisation and delivery. Lee smith as Joe Gillis did well playing the young writer sucked into Norma’s world although more a contrast in his moods, particularly with the two women in his life, would have added even more depth to the story. Max Von Mayerling (Andrew Last), what a great part to play. Andrew did a lovely job showing the devotion and loyalty to his mistress (and ex-wife!). Laura Hodder as Betty Schaefer gave a good solid performance as the young, sweet, but determined screen writer.

Although I found the show to be an odd one I was very impressed with how it was staged. Well done to all involved on another successful production.