Monday, November 14, 2005


When I left off in The Cotswolds Part 2, we were about to actually see Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Sunset Blvd." it's third performance...a preview performance, which was one of the Benefit performances that had been re-scheduled after the postponement happened because of the sets 'mechanical' problems....And that was how Charley and Cousin Carol and our friend Seemah and myself were all able to see this extrordinary happening, with the fantastic Patti Lupone.

When we bought our tickets at the box office that day, we were told that it was very very important to be in our seats fifteen minutes early because of this 'special' benefit performance which was a fund raiser for The Duchess Of Kent's favorite charity.
None of us had any familiarity with the protocal of Royalty, but, in fact, the reason we had to be in our seats was that The Duchess of Kent would be the last to arrive in the theatre, and after she reached her seat (we would already be standing up for her arrival in the theatre itself,) the orchestra would play God Save The Queen, and only after that when she sat down in her seat, could we then sit down in our seats.

It was very very moving to all of us; the very playing of God Save The Queen by the orchestra would have been moving in and of itself, but here was The Duchess Of Kent, coming into the same section of the audience where we were all sitting, though we were much further up towards the top of the 'peanut gallery' as my mother use to call it, was pretty awesome and made this evening just that much more special and rare for the four of us....none of us ever having experienced anything even remotely like this in our lives, and the chances of this happening to any of us ever again were, less than slim and, in reality, the chances were closer actually to 'never again' in our combined lifetimes!

And all this took place before the much anticipated show actually began!

(We were definitely not in Los Angeles anymore, Toto...)

When the show did start, it was everything one would have hoped for. It's not an easy thing to erase the memory of an iconic film like "Sunset Blvd." But this group of artists managed not to erase the memory, but to give us each a new and augmented memory, not the least of which was the extaordinary musical score of Mr. Llyod Webber. In all honesty I am not a huge fan of most of his shows, except I must say that "Phantom Of The Opera" I personally think works on every level that you would want a Musical Theatre experience to work for you. Satisfying in so many ways...not the least of which is the emotional impact of the entire experience. The Actors, The Sets & Costumes, The Music & Lyrics and The Book...all, add up to a stunning theatrical happening that lifts you and moves you and touches the heart in a very deep way. "Sunset Blvd." did this too, in every way. Stunning and powerful in it's impact, I was a basket case by the end of the first act...dissolved in tears that I could not stop.

I thought Patti Lupone was incandescent!
A powerful performer with a voice that woudn't quit! Her acting was impeccable! She completely embodied the being of the character she was playing...the infamous Norma Desmond...and it wasn't so much that she made you forget Gloria Swanson, it was the miracle of her making this Norma Desmond her own; passionate; warm; heart breaking. I mean the woman broke my heart! (Such a satisfying thing to happen to you,,,yes, painful of course, but for someone to make you feel so very much is deeply cathartic, I think...and that's the unique thing about a live theatre experience.....and Patti Lupone was brilliant. )

Sitting with Charley B. was wonderful, too...maybe because we both work in the theatre and love love love the theatre, it makes the experience of seeing a great theatre piece like this, just that much richer...I never felt I had to hold anything back... you know? I knew he felt as much as I did and so there is this sympatico thing happening without having to say one word. A lovely experience to say the least.

The second act did not disappoint....
more of the same...including the fabulous set referred to earlier....and then, the final curtain came down and the audience went crazy! We all went crazy! Screaming 'Bravo' and whooping and clapping till my hands literally were sore! And then,the audience had to leave the theatre pretty quickly because The Duchess Of Kent would be the last person to leave the issues even then and protocal too, I think. I'm not really sure about that....

I wanted to buy anything and everything they were selling at the Merchandise counter; a mug, a key chain, etc., which I did and because we were at the merchandise counter, we were able to get a picture of The Duchess Of Kent departing...a very bad picture..but, a picture, nevertheless....

This was such an exciting evening that the four of us had to go over to see Betty at Pizza On The Park and tell her all about it....we were all so excited by this very rare and wonderful theatre experience we wanted her to get to see Patti Lupone in "Sunset Blvd." before she had to go back to Los Angeles....

(The irony of all this is that Patti Lupone had a run-of-the-play contract which means she gets paid, no matter what....she was supposed to move with "Sunset Blvd'" to New York, after the London company, and she was to 'Open' the Broadway production.

Lord Webber, fired Miss Lupone and hired Glenn Close instead, to eventually open the New York Company after Miss Close played the Los Angeles company. I saw Miss Close in L.A.

Big mistake in my view.

They say living well is the best revenge. Patti Lupone was paid a huge amount of money because of her play or pay contract. I do not know Miss Lupone, (I met her once), but this 'firing' had to be a very very painful and traumatic thing...she had workshoped this show for Lord Webber!

Well, she survived this firing and has flourished as a theatre performer, I'm very happy to say. She is on Broadway right now as I write this, in Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd", which opened last week to superlative reviews. But there was 'no contest' in my view as to who was the better/best Norma Desmond of the two 'Norma's that I saw. No contest, at all.)

More to come in part 4.....later.....

Links to this post:


had this to say:

What a glorious post. You are correct that "it's not an easy thing to erase the memory of an iconic film like "Sunset Blvd." The movie is one of my favourites, however, it is obvious that your theatre experience of "Sunset Boulevard."

Ten years ago I seen "Sunset Boulevard" in Toronto. That production starred Diahann Carroll and Rex Smith. It was indeed wonderful.

Post Script: You were the last person to post on The Weekend Meet n' Greet. I closed the comments and posted below you. So, I must say....Michele sent me.

Have a glorious day!!

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 8:38:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

sounds like you had a great time!

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 10:00:00 AM PST 

Blogger TC
had this to say:

would love to see Sunset Boulevard. I have always wanted to see it.

I love Patti and I while I like Glenn Close, she could compare to Patti.

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 11:00:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I've never seen Patti Lupone on stage, but I've seen her on television and heard her sing, and she is amazing, definitely someone I look up to as a singer. And I don't for a moment doubt she was better than Glenn Close. I think Patti can play anything. She was born to be on the stage. Looking forward to more!

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 11:02:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Sounds wonderful indeed!! You tell it so well that I felt like I was there! Looking forward to....the rest of the story!

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 11:23:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I so wish I could've seen Patti LuPone in "Sunset Boulevard." I heard her performance on the CD recording and when we saw Glenn Close do it here in L.A. I thought she completely lacked the tragic subtlety and vulnerability that LuPone brought to the role (although I generally enjoy Glenn Close). I was shocked at the shoddy way Patti LuPone was treated and that she wouldn't be taking the show to Broadway although I don't claim to know the back story. Do you think it was just a money thing--that they thought Glenn Close would attract more people? If so, then that was also a miscalculation since LuPone is revered by the die-hard Broadway crowd, no? I've seen her live a bunch of times and she is always extraordinary. What a set of pipes on that dame! Would love to see her in "Sweeney Todd" although I was lucky enough to see the original with Angela Lansbury which was pretty great. But this new version is a whole new interpretation, right? Pared down cast and different take on the story?

You're making me hungry for theatre, be it in New York, London, or right here!

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 2:53:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

tc--Glenn Close never touches my heart. I see all the technique, but...for me, no heart! Patti, on the other hand...WOW!!!!

Karin--Yes yes, I agree with you...she was indeed born to be on the stage...Amazing performer. I've seen her twice at The Hollywood Bowl, and she was fantastic. Once with Aurda McDonald..(who is astounding, too!!!)...A thrilling experience!

Danny--Yes, my dear..did you see her at the Bowl?
I too saw Angela Lansbury and that was fabulous..and I saw the Cocert Production on YV that Lupone did a few years ago..and I sure would LOVE to see this new production...Why can't we just be spirited to these places,as needed, or "Beam Me Up Scotty!!!"?
Wouldn't that be great?
I do believe Lord W. felt Glenn Close would bring in 'the money' sice her fame is wider spread....but, to me, it was at the expense of the show, you know? A friend that is Hungarian and speaks her mind ina direct way said, after seeing Glenn Close in "Sunset"..(imagine a Hungarian accent: 'You know what she has under that dress? She has a set of BALLS!!!'....The terrible thing is, I hear from Alan Campbell who played 'Joe' with her that she is a terrific person.,.He absolutely adores her!!! My ideal Cast for this Musical is: Patti Lupone, Alan Campbell and George Hearn, a Max....When I saw George Hearn here, whenhe sang about 'Norma', it was the only time I actually felt something about her and for her! What an unbelievable evening that would have been with those three!!! It might still be pplaying!! (lol)

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 3:31:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I love Patti Lupone, but have never had the opportunity to see her on stage.

As for Glenn Close, I have never understood all the acclaim given her. She has never moved me to that special point, that so many others (with much less critical distinction) have actually been able to do.

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 5:00:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

WOW! Love The Mister, awesome kitty! And I can actually say I know where Mulholland Drive is, saw it on my last trip to CA, but did not see any coyotes. Wonderful blog!

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 8:05:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

today, Michelle did NOT send me. In fact, my mother did. My mom is Faira from Daffodils and Dragons.

Someday i hope to see a Broadway show. I have seen some way way off off off broadway things, and local city theatre (which i love) and some collegiate stuff, too. We have a local history theatre where local actor types preform interactive plays written about local historical happenings (like murder mysteries) thats so much fun.

i just love the way you write. You capture a lot of the magic and share it with me. thank you.

looking forward to part IV

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 9:24:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Although I'm sure it was a fantastic experience for you, all the upping & downing for royalty/God Save the Queen gets a bit boring after a while:-)

As I remember it, everyone who was anyone said Glenn Close was not a patch on Patti Lupone.

I'm on the edge of my seat for the next installment!

Monday, November 14, 2005 at 11:35:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

It sounds like you had a fabulous (and very exciting) evening! I'm going to run out and rent Sunset Blvd now (sorry to say that I've never seen it before).

Michele sent me today.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005 at 7:41:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I am a major musical theater buff. Who'd a thunk it?!?!

Patti her.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 at 3:03:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I am anxiously awaiting Part 4. You describe the experience so well that I feel I have been there. What happened to LuPone reminds me of Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews (at least I think that is who it was).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 at 5:01:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I would definitely prefer Patti over Glenn.
Politics in theatre is as everywhere else a pain in the you know where.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 at 7:44:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Even as I read your post today, I can feel the exhilaration you exude. You've got such a talent for bringing your reality to your reader's imagination. Thank you for another splendid trip.

Thursday, November 17, 2005 at 9:28:00 PM PST 

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