The Marriott Theatre with an almost unlimited budget produces shows that rival any seen on the New York stage. Sunset Boulevard is the most recent example of that quality. Andrew Lloyd Webbers musical version of Billy Wilders dark story of a faded movie star living in a dream world of lost fame materialized in the early 90s. Over its lengthy run, several actresses played Norma Desmond. Paul Scrofanos performance more than equals that of any of her predecessors. Gowned exquisitely by Nancy Missimi, she owns the stage.
The grand staircase and Hollywood interiors are cleverly replicated in John Boesches projection design. Panels hang from ceiling to floor, providing the screens on which we see Norma, a body floating in the swimming pool, the gates of Paramount studios, and Norma, Max and Joe riding in a classic car.
Matt Farnsworth is Joe Gillis, John Reeger, Max von Mayerling and Heidi Kettenring, Betty Schaefer. Farnsworth adequately portrays a failed screened writer enticed by Norma to rewrite her screen play. Reeger as caretaker and protector of dreams sings of The Greatest Star of All, remembering a 16-year-old whose fresh face dominated the silent movies.
Scrofanos arias brought cheers from the house with As If We Never Said Goodbye being the most memorable. Andrew Lloyd Webbers music has an interchangeable quality. When hearing a piece, one is never quite sure whether it came from Evita, Phantom of the Opera or Miss Saigon.
Webbers version is the last of many unsuccessful attempts. Producer Harold Prince purchased the rights from Paramount in the 60s and commissioned Burt Shevlove to write the book and Stephen Sondheim to write the score. That never materialized. That possibility intrigues.
Sunset Boulevard runs through Nov. 7 with eight performances a week. Tickets are $40 and can be obtained by calling (847) 634-2000.