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Musical review: Sunset Boulevard at the New Century Theatre

Updated: 02/18/2014 9:57 AM
Created: 06/09/2013 5:57 PM KSTP.com
By: Sarina Long

If you are a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber's, you may be pleased with The Minneapolis Musical Theatre's production of Sunset Boulevard. The original Broadway musical, directed by Trevor Nunn with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1995.

MMT's production runs through June 23 at Minneapolis' New Century Theatre. Based on the 1950 Oscar-winning movie, Sunset Boulevard tells a tale of unfulfilled ambition and the way things used to be. Silent movie star Norma Desmond (Sarah Gibson) longs for a return to the big screen, a legend forgotten by Tinseltown replaced by younger, "talkies." In her mind, and in her home she has lived a life where fan mail still comes but work is scarce. When Norma meets struggling Hollywood screen-writer Joe Gillis (Tim Kuehl), their subsequent passionate and volatile relationship leads to an unforeseen and tragic conclusion.

Directed by Steven Meerdink, MMT has re-invented this Broadway hit for a smaller stage. The set is simple, much of the action takes place in Norma Desmond's old, dark mansion. Two screens often show pre-recorded sequences on either side of the stage. A live orchestra is set up on the far side of the stage -- having the live music is the best part, this group is fantastic.

Much of the action is recapped by failed writer Joe Gillis or suggested via videotaped sequences. Gibson does a great job of convincing the audience with her eyes and spot on facial expresssions, as faded silent movie star Norma Desmond of years past would. Desmond and her dusty Sunset Boulevard home remain front and center for most of this musical.

It was exciting to see Hubbard Broadcasting's very own Christian Unser playing Max Von Mayerling in his 10th production with MMT. Unser is currently the Senior Producer for Twin Cities Live on 5 Eyewitness News.

Unfortunately, MMT's version of Sunset Boulevard does not live up to the Oscar-winning movie or Broadway versions. It lacks the glitz and glamour, the actors do not seem convincing, other than Gibson and even she struggles at times.

Single tickets are on sale now. For tickets or more information, visit www.HennepinTheatreTrust.org or call 1.800.982.2787.


 


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