Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

THE BIG SCREEN ON STAGE

Sunset Boulevard

Michael Harrison and David Ian and associates (The Curve production) , Wales Millennium Centre , February-27-18
Sunset Boulevard by Michael Harrison and David Ian and associates (The Curve production) The very fine playing of the orchestra under the vigorous direction of Adrian Kirk got things off to a great start, once again showing us that Andrew Lloyd Webber is a master of music for the stage. The playing completely filled the large auditorium giving us a real sense of the world of cinema. As did Colin Richmond’s set, first with sliding large metal screens evoking a real feel of film making in progress but his pièce de résistance was the magnificent sweeping staircase giving us the atmosphere of decaying grandeur that hung about the home of the once star of the silent screen, Norma Desmond. A real show-stopper of a performance from Swansea’s Ria Jones.

Lee Proud’s happy, energetic choregraphy danced with such youthful joy by this excellent ensemble of Holywood hopefuls, carried us into the story. For a while it was a bit difficult to know exactly what was going on – but did that mater? – we are all having fun.

Soon the Strictly Come Dancing Star, Danny Mac, showing us he was much more than just a dancer, arrived and took a very firm hold of the role of screen writer, Joe Gillis and became initially our singing story teller. When he took the star of the show into his arms and did dance it was immaculate. I coud have done with a bit more! Mac has now added equally fine acting skills to his portfolio, always making strong contact with his audience and providing the perfect counterbalance to Jones’ stellar performance.

It is in the second half we get the full impact of this heart string pulling tale and we quiver to Jones’ passionate singing with her even more moving ‘operatic’ vibratto. She clasps us all to her heart as she sings ‘As if We Never Said Goodbye’. She sees heself back as a star of the new talking pictures – sadly noone else does. Her wrong-headed passion is well understood and nursed by her loyal ‘butler’ Max Von Meyerling. Adam Pearce, despite his initial impression of someone out of The Addams Family, sings with enormous sensitivity and realism. This feeling of realistic playing is also captured well in the delightful personality created by Molly Lynch as young screen writer, Betty Schaefer.

There are signs of a relationship developing between her and Gillis and we are all gunning for them. But the ‘big star’ in the big house has other ideas. She has virtually ‘kidnapped’ Gillis to complete her film script. This he does nipping out, whenever he can to sing engagingly amd develop the relationship with Schaefer.

Off go Desmond and Gillis back to the famous Paramount film studio. She finds her old friend, the great film maker Cecil B DeMille. Carl Sanderson is not on stage for long but gives us a good cameo perfomance as the famous man. They go home and Desmond is determined the call will come. As days go by her passion for Gillis deepens and he feels more and more trapped. Of course there is a tragic ending. But we have experienced many moments of joy and seen two excellent strong performances from the stars of the show Ria Jones and Danny Mac who have given us everything in these two very demanding roles. The packed house rose to their feet to thank them.

Continues ‘til March 3

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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