A lavish new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical masterpiece, Sunset Boulevard will premiere in Melbourne in May 2024 at the Princess Theatre followed by a season at the Sydney Opera House in August.
Starring in this newly imagined revival alongside superstar Sarah Brightman, will be critically acclaimed actor and performer Tim Draxl in the role of Joe Gillis. The role of Max Von Mayerling will be played by stage and screen veteran Robert Grubb, with the role of Betty Schaefer played by emerging leading lady Ashleigh Rubenach.
Musical theatre performer Jarrod Draper will play the role of Artie Green and Cecil B. DeMille will be played by established theatre actor Paul Hanlon. The role of Norma Desmond, at select performances, will be played by the remarkable Silvie Paladino.
Joining them on stage will be the extremely talented ensemble cast including Regan Barber, Amy Berrisford, Billy Bourchier, Campbell Braithwaite, Benjamin Colley, Grace Driscoll, Madison Green, Peter Ho, Leah Lim, Mary McCorry, Charlotte Page, Morgan Palmer, Caity Plummer, Taylor Scanlan, Tom Sharah, Lisa Sontag, Troy Sussman, Riley Sutton and Dean Vince.
‘‘We are thrilled to present this superb cast for this newly reimagined version of the masterpiece that is Sunset Boulevard. The calibre of artists we have assembled is extraordinary and I am very excited to see them bring our vision for this production to life on stage,” said Director Paul Warwick Griffin.
“Having Sarah Brightman return to the stage in this iconic role is thrilling and adding to the allure is the extraordinary talent of Silvie Paladino who joins the company to play Norma for certain performances.
Along with Tim Draxl, Ashleigh Rubenach and Robert Grubb, we are incredibly fortunate to have assembled a company of world class talent who will bring to life Sunset Boulevard’s complex characters and hauntingly beautiful score.”
Tim Draxl has a career spanning over two decades in film, TV, stage and music. He is best known for his role in TV series A Place to Call Home but has starred in an array of films and TV shows over the years. Most notably last year he starred in 2 break out successful TV series, ABC’s In Our Blood and also SBS’s Erotic Stories – both earning him 2024 AACTA Award nominations for Best Lead Actor in a Drama and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama respectively. On stage he has starred in musicals including Only Heaven Knows, A Chorus Line, The Sound of Music and more recently Jagged Little Pill.
Robert Grubb is one of our most versatile actors with extensive experience in Australian theatre, film and TV. In addition to various well known TV roles in Flying Doctors, McLeod’s Daughters and Sea Change amongst others, the Helpmann award-winner has appeared in many musicals over the years including Mary Poppins, Billy Elliot, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Strictly Ballroom and he was also part of the original Australian production of Sunset Boulevard in 1996.
WAAPA graduate Ashleigh Rubenach has gathered an extensive list of musicals to her experience including An American in Paris, Muriel’s Wedding, Anything Goes, My Fair Lady and is about to star in the new Australian production of Groundhog Day.
Jarrod Draper, also a WAAPA graduate has forged an impressive start to his career with roles in Rent and Catch Me If You Can and most recently in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Paul Hanlon is a stalwart of the theatre industry in Australia with a career spanning over 30 years. He has appeared in musicals such as Les Misérables, The Boy from Oz, West Side Story and Hairspray.
Silvie Paladino has become one of the country’s most versatile entertainers, with a remarkable vocal range that enables her to sing a vast repertoire including jazz, contemporary, musical theatre and light opera. Silvie began her musical theatre career in the original Australian production of Les Misérables which led to two stints in the West End production, and has graced stages ever since including in Mamma Mia!, Miss Saigon, The King and I, Chess and more recently in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
Based on the Billy Wilder film, the musical version of Sunset Boulevard had its world premiere at London’s Adelphi Theatre on July 12th 1993. The show received its American premiere in December 1993 at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles starring Glenn Close as Norma Desmond.
The show subsequently opened on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre in November 1994 with the highest advance ticket sales in Broadway history at the time. The original Broadway production won six Tony Awards of the eleven Tony Awards for which it was nominated including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book.
This spectacular new staging features stunning sets and costumes, evoking the glamorous Golden Age of Hollywood. The thrillingly atmospheric score features the hits With One Look, The Perfect Year, and the anthemic As If We Never Said Goodbye.
Sunset Boulevard is presented by Opera Australia and GWB Entertainment by arrangement with The Really Useful Group. This newly imagined revival will mark Sunset Boulevard’s first return to Australia in almost twenty years, where it played to sold out audiences.
Sunset Boulevard has Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Book and Lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, and is based on the Billy Wilder film. This new production will be Directed by Paul Warwick Griffin with Set and Costume Design by Morgan Large. Choreography by Ashley Wallen with Musical Supervision by Kristen Blodgette.
Sunset Boulevard weaves a magnificent tale of faded glory and unfulfilled ambition. Having been discarded by Hollywood with the advent of “talkies”, legendary silent movie star, Norma Desmond, is tortured by her longing for a return to the big screen.
When she meets struggling Hollywood screenwriter Joe Gillis in a dramatic chance encounter, their subsequent passionate and volatile relationship leads to an unforeseen and tragic conclusion.
Sunset Boulevard will play Melbourne’s Princess Theatre from 21 May, before playing the Sydney Opera House from 28 August 2024. For more information, visit: www.sunsetmusical.com.au for details.
Image: Paul Hanlon, Robert Grubb, Silvie Paladino, Tim Draxl, Ashleigh Rubenach and Jarrod Draper to star in Sunset Boulevard – photo by Ben King