Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, I am a Strictly fan and, yes, the main attraction of this show was seeing what Danny Mac was like in an acting, singing and even a bit of dancing role. Sunset Boulevard? Seen the film, many years ago. Ria Jones? Sorry, not heard of her apart from that audiences loved her when she covered for Glenn Close in a semi-staged version of this Andrew Lloyd Webber show.
Well, Danny Mac as Joe Gillis didn’t disappoint although it took a quiet a while for him to have his big number, the title song, delivered, as it happened, in a pair of 50s swimming trunks and then a shirt that was about as chest revealing as possible. We also had a bit of fancy footwork in the New Year’s Eve scene where he is the only guest at Norma Desmond’s lavish party, dancing on the very tiles where Valentino had tangoed.
The other highlight for me was actor Adam Pearce who sang and acted Max, the butler and chauffeur, who it turns out was the star’s first husband and director, loyal to the end. He sang with a deep rich bass in songs that required vocal range.
I was not as taken by our leading lady Ria Jones playing Norma Desmond although the packed Wales Millennium Centre audience clearly adored her.
I also found the alternative love interest for the down at heel writer, Betty, a little insipid but that is probably more the writing and direction than Molly Lynch as an actress.
Nikolai Foster’s production with Colin Richmond designs is a combination of theatre and play within a play technique, the show is presented partly as the set of a film with cinematography techniques employed such as Joe’s car journey to Sunset Boulevard, our leading lady being wheeled on to the set on a film set tower, and use of old black and white film of the actress when men hung on her every facial gesture (including a maharaja who literally hanged himself using one of her stockings).
This is not Andrew Lloyd Webber’s finest score and I would not rush back to see the musical itself unless perhaps, again, there was a big name draw.
Until March 3