Sunset Boulevard at the Royal Albert Hall
Making the best of the fantastic premises that the Royal Albert Hall offers, this concert production of Sunset Boulevard is a hit. Featuring an all-star cast and a strong musical director, it intoxicates its audience with a euphoric engagement that lasts the entire runtime.
The musical is based on the 1950 movie of the same title. Its plot centres around the once-famous silent movie star Nora Desmond (Mazz Murray), who engages the services of struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis (Ramin Karimloo) to promote a script she’s written in the hopes of making a glorious comeback. Her ex-husband – now butler – Max von Mayerling (Jeremy Secomb) inadvertently supports her in her dreams, no matter how hopelessly futile they are.
The main selling point of this production is no doubt the actors. Secomb’s Max demonstrates finesse with The Greatest Star of All, and Kraimloo’s Joe impresses from start to finish, delivering a particularly heated take on the song Sunset Boulevard. But it is especially Murray, with an utterly stunning portrayal of Nora, who enchants the audience. After her heartbreaking rendition of As If We Never Said Goodbye – arguably the most vigorous song in Sunset Boulevard – she receives a standing ovation.
Being a concert production, the main focus is, of course, on the actors as singers, but director Jordan Murphy still does a strong job with what he has, from the lighting to the choreography and the costumes. Musical director Alex Parker’s conducting really gives the show a particular flair, with each number performed with plenty of energy and finesse. Parker is undeniably in top form.
As such, there is little to complain about in this concert production of Sunset Boulevard. It’s still a powerful show, demonstrating the need to adapt to changing times and the dangers of clinging on to an obsolete past, but also the decadence and flimsiness of fame. Parker’s production is a success and won’t soon be forgotten.
Sunset Boulevard is at the Royal Albert Hall on 3rd December 2021 only. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.