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Sunset Boulevard at Birmingham Hippodrome - Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Outstanding performances in Lloyd Webber musical
When you have an actress like Ria Jones at centre stage, it would be easy for her to overshadow the rest of the cast - but Danny Mac manages to hold his own in this grim melodrama.

Sunset boulevard tour, Birmingham hippodrome, Ria Jones,
The glamour and obsessions of Hollywood are at the centre of Sunset Boulevard


Jones received standing ovations every night for her performance as faded silent-screen actress Norma Desmond when the musical was on at the London Coliseum. Now it's reached Birmingham, the ovations continue.

This Tony award-winning stage version of Sunset Boulevard from Andrew Lloyd Webber is performed at Birmingham Hippodrome until November 18.

Alongside Jones is actor and Strictly Come Dancing favourite Danny Mac as Joe Gillis in the tawdry, Hollywood tale of passion, betrayal and sexual obsession. Something particularly relevant to today's scandals about the film industry.

Sunset boulevard, Danny Mac, Birmingham hippodrome
Danny Mac stars in Sunset Boulevard


The stage show is based on Billy Wilder's legendary film, but on top of that, has Don Black and Christopher Hampton's book and lyrics.

It's very dark and, at times, an uneasy insight into the inner workings of Hollywood - how it can make you a star and spit you out, and leave its former stars deluded.

Danny Mac plays out-of-work writer Joe, who stumbles across ageing actress Norma Desmond at her mansion in Sunset Boulevard. Manipulated by Norma and her money, he ends up becoming trapped into becoming her lover with disastrous consequences.

Ria Jones, sunset boulevard, Birmingham hippodrome
Ria Jones singing in Sunset Boulevard


Mac is a confident, well-cast lead as he has a strong voice and presence on stage that is a charismatic match for Jones.

The orchestra makes this a fabulous experience for the ears as the dramatic score is powerful.

Yet while the songs are fittingly moody, they aren't the most memorable of Lloyd Webber's back-catalogue and include tracks like Sunset Boulevard, As If We Never Said Goodbye, The Greatest Star Of All and The Perfect Year.

Meanwhile, Adam Pearce playing servant Max stood out to for his particularly distinctive deep voice.

Sunset boulevard, Danny Mac, Rita Jones, Birmingham hippodrome
The tawdry world of Hollywood


Sunset Boulevard is a grand, slick production with a lavish feel to it. Lloyd Webber fans won't be disappointed as it is full of his signature strong set pieces.

It may have a dark, dismal storyline but the individual performances shine bright.

RATING:

Running time: Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes including one interval.

Tickets cost from 23 from the Birmingham Hippodrome website.
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Why? See memorable performance in iconic musical
When: Until November 18
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: From 23
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