Sunset Boulevard

Date 30th April 2022
Society Epsom Light Opera Company
Venue Epsom Playhouse
Type of Production Musical
Director Jeff Raggett
Musical Director Dennis Clark-Hooker
Choreographer Aimee Clark-Hooker

Report

Author: Gloria Smith

I was delighted to attend your production of ‘Sunset Boulevard’ last week and as you are now in District 12 of NODA South East I look forward to many more such occasions.

Having performed at the Epsom Playhouse many times over the past years it was good to be there again, this time as a member of the audience.

‘Sunset Boulevard’ had its world premiere at London’s Adelphi Theatre in July 1993 and then its American premier in Los Angeles during December the same year. It has been staged across the world and returned to the West End in 2017 before later opening on Broadway.

The Playhouse has a good -sized stage and lends itself well to the scenery/flats etc, some of which were quite substantial. The staircases and raised areas on stage provided different levels and the properties and furniture were suitable for the era. There was no mention in the programme as to scenery supplies so I assume they were made in-house. The revolving flats enabled scene changes to be accomplished quickly and quietly.

In a show with very little dialogue it sometimes takes time for the audience to become wholly involved, but because of the excellent diction throughout we were drawn into the plot very quickly.

Musical numbers are far from straightforward, nor I imagine easy to learn in this musical, and the voice range has to be wide jumping as it does from a bass note to a top tenor and similarly for the ladies. It was most impressive that each and every soloist had the ability to cope with the vocal challenge presented.

In the role of Joe, Jacob Botha was excellent. He set the scene at the opening for what was to follow and his was a massive part. He was on stage for virtually the whole of the show and he couldn’t be faulted.

Sarah Trotman was superb. She portrayed faultlessly the character of the now jaded film star Norma Desmond, whose glamour had faded in all but her own eyes and her stance and demeanour were perfect. Her rendition of ‘With One Look’ was one of the many musical highlights in the show.

The loyal Max von Mayerling, who turns out to be an ex-husband, was clearly utterly devoted to Norma and Steve Molyneux played this role strongly.

As Betty Schaefer, budding writer and girlfriend of Artie, (which doesn’t seem to matter too much when Joe takes an interest in her!) Danielle Kerley was charming and gave a sound performance.

Artie Green, who I guess does get the girl in the end when Joe is shot dead by Norma, came across as a very likeable, lively character and was portrayed with confidence by Rick Qureshi..

Paul Hyde looked the part and was secure in the part of Cecil B DeMille.

Didrik Finnie and Simon Ferrier gave good support to the principals in their respective roles of Sheldrake and Manfred. 

Members of the company had the opportunity to represent numerous different characters and each one added to the overall professional presentation of the show. I particularly enjoyed their opening number in the theatre dressing room and the salesmen and beauticians ones too. The man at the head of the team of clothes salesmen was especially good - the audience really enjoyed his performance. The Latin American chorus number at the New Year’s Eve party was great.

 

Act two opened strongly with Joe’s ‘Sunset Boulevard and ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ was a triumph.

 

Costumes were suitable for the era and Norma’s costumes were fabulous! Joe’s  change on stage into a dinner suit was nicely handled - unfortunately the sleeves of the dinner jacket were too short.

 

The use of black and white film for the car journey etc; worked well and the lighting and sound were also good.

 

Musical director and keyboard player Dennis Clark-Hooker made the small band sound like a well-balanced orchestra and at no time was the music too loud for the soloists.

 

Choreography by Aimee Clark-Hooker was very good and the direction by Jeff Ragget was commendable.

 

Your programme is nicely set out and interesting to read but there is a spelling mistake in Betty’s surname. I believe there should be a ‘c’ in Schaefer.

 

Thank you for inviting me to see ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and for your hospitality on the evening. Everyone involved in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is to be congratulated for staging a first rate show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The use of black and white film for the car journey etc; worked well and the lighting and sound were also good.

 

Musical director and keyboard player Dennis Clark-Hooker made the small band sound like a well-balanced orchestra and at no time was the music too loud for the soloists.

 

Choreography by Aimee Clark-Hooker was very good and the direction by Jeff Ragget was commendable.

 

Your programme is nicely set out and interesting to read but there is a spelling mistake in Betty’s surname. I believe there should be a ‘c’ in Schaefer.

 

Thank you for inviting me to see ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and for your hospitality on the evening. Everyone involved in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is to be congratulated for staging a first rate show.

 

I look forward to seeing ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ in October and perhaps being able to meet someone involved in the production during the interval.