Sunset Boulevard Review

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – until 28th April 2018.

Reviewed by Sophie Dodworth


Movie star glitz, glamour and romance oozes at the Lyceum Theatre with this famous, popular musical. This tour follows a successful run at Londons’ Coliseum Theatre and much of the cast have stayed the same. This production lands in the Sheffield theatre, bringing the essence of the West End with it; professional and polished.

Based on Billy Wilders’ 1950s’ award winning film, the story follows Norma Desmond, a faded star living in her mansion on Sunset Boulevard. She meets aspiring writer Joe Gillis who sees a money making opportunity in Norma, by offering to help her with a script she wrote years ago. A relationship between the pair develops although it is clear both have different motives. When Betty Schaefer is introduced in to the mix, things become dark leading to jealousy, insanity and finally murder.

The score for this production is insanely dramatic, filling the auditorium with energy and anticipation. There are some super big moments in the music, including the show stopper ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ sung by Ria Jones (Norma). This number gets you on the edge of your seat, watching the actress give it her all, air grabbing at every opportunity and it is absolutely outstanding. ‘The Greatest Star Of All’ sung by Adam Pearce (Max Von Meyerling) leaves mouths open, smiles on faces and hearts full of melody. Pearce has a range like no other, able to get right down to bottom bass notes and straight back up to falsetto with perfect execution. His voice is like warm, smooth velvet and takes you on a journey on which you will pay full attention to. Credit to the 16 piece orchestra who send vibrations through the auditorium with their perfect dedication to the extravagant Andrew Lloyd Webber score.

Ria Jones steals the show with her portrayal of Norma, making the character believable and inviting the audience in to sympathise with her. She is evidently a very experienced actress with a great stage presence, charisma and charm. Danny Mac, playing Joe Gillis, suits the attitude of the role well, cheeky, smooth and ambitious. Macs’ voice is sometimes challenged when reaching the falsetto ranges and could do with a touch more diction.

Colin Richmond (Set and Costume Designer) and Ben Crackell (Lighting designer) do a phenomenal job with the ambiance and structure of the set. This is really evident the entire way though the show, many a scene has its mood determined just by the lighting and set.

This is the kind of theatre that leaves you thinking about it the next day. It has a story that will resonate with you and a musical score that only the strongest of folk would be able to resist singing for the foreseeable future.