Andrew Lloyd Webber inspires many reactions, but ambivalence generally isn’t one of them. Theater audiences have gobbled up grandly operatic hits like The Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Cats, even as purists have bashed his derivative tunes. But in a career that has seen him find source material in everything from the Bible to geopolitics, and from classic literature to poetry, Lloyd Webber has proven he knows where to find the stuff of a good show.
For his musical adaptation of Billy Wilder’s classic film Sunset Boulevard, Lloyd Webber collaborated with lyricist Don Black and playwright Christopher Hampton to tell the story of faded silent-movie queen Norma Desmond and her relationship with struggling would-be Hollywood screenwriter Joe Gillis. Retaining much of Wilder’s most famous dialogue (“I am big … it’s the pictures that got small.”), the production adds a typically sweeping Lloyd Webber score to explore the perils of fame. After more than 40 years, Andrew Lloyd Webber is still ready for his close-up.