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‘Sunset Boulevard’ brings tinsel town to CLO

July 26, 2012
From staff reports , The Herald-Star

PITTSBURGH - Audiences will be captivated by Andrew Lloyd Webber's fiery story of love, fame and Hollywood in Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's debut production of "Sunset Boulevard," currently running through Sunday at the Benedum Center.

Tony nominee Liz Callaway, critically acclaimed star of "Love Changes Everything," returns to the Pittsburgh CLO stage as eccentric Hollywood actress Norma Desmond.

"Sunset Boulevard" weaves a magnificent tale of faded glory and unfulfilled ambition. Having been discarded by tinsel town with the advent of "talkies," silent movie star Norma Desmond longs for a return to the big screen. By the time she meets struggling Hollywood screenwriter Joe Gillis, the glitz and glamour of her Hollywood life has all but faded in her mind. Their passionate and volatile relationship leads to an unforeseen and tragic curtain call, perfectly captured by Andrew Lloyd Webber's sweeping score, including songs such as "With One Look" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye."

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The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera will feature Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” through Sunday at the Benedum Center, Pittsburgh.

Callaway is a Broadway veteran who made her Pittsburgh CLO debut in the 2011 production of "Love Changes Everything: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber." Her remarkable list of theater credits includes "Merrily We Roll Along," "Baby," "Miss Saigon," "Cats," "The Look of Love" and "The Three Musketeers." She also starred in the off-Broadway production of "The Spitfire Grill," for which she received a Drama Desk Nomination.

Her list of television and film credits includes "Ready to Go," "Inside the Actor's Studio: Stephen Sondheim," "Anastasia," "The Swan Princess," "Lion King 2: Simba's Pride" and "Aladdin." Callaway's solo recordings include "Passage of Time," "The Beat Goes On," "The Story Goes On," "Anywhere I Wander" and "Boom!" (with Ann Hampton Callaway).

Walter Charles as Max returns to Pittsburgh CLO after starring in "Me and My Girl" and "La Cage aux Folles." His Broadway credits include the Broadway revivals of "Anything Goes" and "The Apple Tree," "The Woman in White," "Big River," "Boys from Syracuse,' "Kiss Me Kate," "A Christmas Carol," "Aspects of Love," "Me and My Girl," "Cats" and "Grease!" Among his countless theater and film credits are "Wit," "The Immigrant, Sweeney Todd," "Company," "A Fine Mess," "Weeds," "Fletch Lives," "Prancer," "Cagney & Lacey" and "Kate & Allie."

"Sunset Boulevard" is based on the 1950 film noir-style film of the same name. The film was directed by Billy Wilder and starred William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim and Nancy Olson. It received 11 Academy Award nominations and won three Academy Awards for best music, best art direction and best writing, story and screenplay.

The musical adaptation of "Sunset Boulevard," with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book by Don Black and lyrics by Christopher Hampton, debuted on the West End on July 12, 1993, at the Adelphi Theatre. It starred Patti LuPone as Norma Desmond, Kevin Anderson as Joe Gillis, Meredith Braun as Betty Schaefer and Daniel Benzali as Max. The show then went on to make its American premiere at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles on Dec. 9, 1993, starring Glenn Close as Norma, George Hearn as Max and Judy Kuhn as Betty.

"Sunset Boulevard" ultimately made its Broadway debut on Nov. 17, 1994, at the Minskoff Theatre with Glenn Close and George Hearn reprising their roles from Los Angeles and Alice Ripley joining the cast as Betty. The original Broadway production won seven of the 11 Tony Awards for which it was nominated in 1995, including best musical, best original score, best book of a musical, best performance by a leading actress in a musical and best performance by a featured actor in a musical.

Tickets range from $10 to $65 and are available online at; by calling (412) 456-6666; or at the box office at Theater Square.

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