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Sunset Boulevard @ Limelight Theatre

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at:
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Ready for my close-up, Mr De Mille
Often described as one of the greatest films of American cinema, Sunset Boulevard was adapted into a stage musical in 1993 and scored eight Tony Awards in 1995.

Andrew Lloyd Webber took the story of the 1950 film and set it to music with lyrics and book by Don Black and Christopher Hampton.

Sunset Boulevard
Young screenwriter Joe Gillis (Callan Kneale) who brings hope to faded actress Norma Desmond (Rachel Monamy) in "Sunset Boulevard"

The story follows Norma Desmond, a faded star of the silent screen era, living in the past in her decaying mansion on the fabled Los Angeles street, Sunset Boulevard.

When young screenwriter Joe Gillis accidentally crosses her path, she sees an opportunity to make her comeback to the big screen – but romance and tragedy follow.

Director Robert Benson-Parry said he wanted to direct Sunset Boulevard because of its raw emotion and substance.

This is in direct contrast to the content of the musical, meaning it's crying out to be performed," he said.

It's a story of greed, false glory, faded dreams and the eternal love triangle where girls-meets-boy and then the boy meets another girl.

Sunset Boulevard
L to R: Meg McKibbin as Betty Schaefer, Callan Kneale as Joe Gillis and Rachel Monamy as Norma Desmond

When you've got all that, it will always end in tears.

It is a musical that captures the Golden Age of Hollywood when the movies were massive productions and the stars even bigger.

Sunset Boulevard
Faded actress Norma Desmond (Rachel Desmond) has to contended with the mysterious butler Max von Mayerling (Keith Scrivens) in "Sunset Boulevard"

Yet this is also an intimate story, dealing with two people who want very different things from each other."

Involved in theatre for the past 35 years, Benson-Parry has performed extensively with Harbour, Celtic Circle and Limelight Theatres and the Perth Actors Company.

With Sunset Boulevard, my main challenge is portraying the false glamour of Hollywood without making the characters themselves appear false," he said.

"The world they live in is definitely false but they are real people with substance."

Sunset Boulevard plays at 8pm, November 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, December 1, 5, 6, 7 and 8 with 2pm matinees December 1 and 8. Tickets are $26 adults, $21 concession and $12 children.

Book on 9571 8591 between 9am and midday, Monday to Friday, or online at

Limelight Theatre is located on Civic Drive, Wanneroo.

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Why? Raw emotion and substance in a stage musical
When: 8:00pm and 2:00pm (Matinee)
Phone: 9571 8591
Where: Limelight Theatre, Civic Drive, Wanneroo
Cost: $26, $21 and $12
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