Sunset Boulevard set to premiere in Melbourne

GWB-OA-Sunset-Boulevard-Sarah-BrightmanThe lavish new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical masterpiece, Sunset Boulevard, starring musical theatre and international superstar Sarah Brightman, premieres in Melbourne in May, before a season in Sydney from August.

Rehearsals for this much anticipated Australian production of Sunset Boulevard are now underway with the entire company preparing for what will be a most dazzling newly imagined revival.

Marking her return to the theatre after more than three decades, Sarah Brightman stars as Norma Desmond, the iconic role that catapulted Glenn Close to Broadway stardom and recently earned Nicole Scherzinger an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical in the West End.

Alongside her will be critically acclaimed Australian actor and performer Tim Draxl in the role of Joe Gillis, a role last played on stage in Australia by Hugh Jackman in 1996.

“I am thrilled to be here in Melbourne and finally in the rehearsal room for this lavish production of Sunset Boulevard. It is wonderful to be working with this incredible Australian cast,” said Sarah Brightman.

“I am enjoying this part of the journey and am excited to be bringing Norma to life each and every day. It’s amazing to see this incredible score and iconic story all coming together, and we are all very much looking forward to the moment we are on that stage,” said Ms Brightman.

“Playing the role of Joe Gillis is a definite career highlight for me and having the opportunity to create a new interpretation of the character in this brand new production is something I do with immense pride and a great sense of responsibility,” said Tim Draxl.

“It’s a character that has long been at the top of my list of dream roles and to date one of the most challenging I have ever taken on. Not only for the sheer workload but also for its complexities and the nuanced storytelling that the masterpiece which is Sunset Boulevard demands both musically and dramatically.”

“This company and creative team are second to none and I pinch myself every day that I get to embark on this journey with them, especially sharing the stage with the incomparable Sarah Brightman.”

“Getting to know her during this process and watching her bring such sensitivity and flair to the role of Norma has been nothing short of awe inspiring and an experience I will never forget.”

“With only weeks until our first audience the rehearsal room is brimming with excitement and anticipation, and we truly cannot wait to share this incredible show with everyone. We are all well and truly ready for our close ups!” said Draxl.

Joining Sarah and Tim on stage in the role of Max Von Mayerling will be 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, whilst the roles of Cecil B. DeMille and Sheldrake will be played by established theatre actors Paul Hanlon and Troy Sussman. The role of Norma Desmond, at select performances, will be played by the remarkable Silvie Paladino.

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, Riley Sutton and Dean Vince.

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 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 the ‘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 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 thirty years, where it played to sold out audiences.

Sunset Boulevard commences at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre on 21 May, followed by a season at the Sydney Opera House from 28 August 2024. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Sarah Brightman to star in Sunset Boulevard (supplied)