The plaudits had already been showered on this production of Sunset Boulevard long before your reviewer put finger to keyboard. Of the two protagonists, an ageing and fading Hollywood actress and a young, down-at-heel writer, the critics have said “Ria Jones is wonderful” and “Danny Mac is a revelation”, and of the production as a whole, “musical theatre gold.” And they are right. Wimbledon may be some distance from Shaftesbury Avenue, but this musical is as good as any in the West End. It ticks every box in this reviewer’s theatrical score sheet.
The rest of the cast are well up to the standard set by the protagonists, and a special mention must go to Adam Pearce, who plays the actress’s faithful and lugubrious dogsbody with touching sensitivity. The music is well up to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s usual standard, so you’ll know that’s good. What counts, of course, is the way it is put over, and the orchestra certainly does the score proud. But for me what stands out is the staging itself – the inventive mise-en-scène, such as the kaleidoscopic simulacra of real car rides, and the creation of an authentic-looking movie lot, or a diner, or a beauty parlour with amazing rapidity as one scene seamlessly succeeds another. This is in truth a superb production.
The audience at the New Wimbledon Theatre, which was packed on the opening night, were evidently of the same view, for they all rose to their feet and gave the cast a standing ovation at the end. Hurry to catch this show if you live in the London area, because it won’t be here after Saturday. But it has been on tour since last September, and the tour will take it to several venues outside London in the coming weeks – Canterbury, Sheffield, Glasgow, Sunderland and Oxford.
- By Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Directed by Nikolai Foster
- Book & Lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton
- Cast includes: Ria Jones, Danny Mac and Adam Pearce
- New Wimbledon Theatre, London
- Until 14th April 2018
- Time: 19:30. Matinees: 14:30 every day except Friday.