Sunset Boulevard, New Earswick Musicals, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, until Saturday. Box office: 0333 666 3366 OPENING for the first time in London in 1993, Sunset Boulevard has had several long runs internationally and has also enjoyed extensive tours, winning numerous accolades including eight Tony Awards.
This week, New Earswick Musicals are bringing this well-known tale of ego, folly and tragedy to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in York, with director and actor Steve Tearle promising “a wonderful show” with “amazing performances”.
Originally founded in 1914 as the New Earswick Dramatic Society, the organisation moved its performances from the New Earswick Folk Hall to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in 1968, where it now stages two musical shows each year and has attracted a loyal cadre of fans and admirers.
The players are clearly just as enamoured of their plays as their fans, it seems, as they threw themselves wholeheartedly into their roles. Despite a few technical hiccups – most notably a recurring problem where the performers’ microphones would occasionally cut out, making their voices hard to hear over the orchestral score – there was no denying that everyone was giving it their all, their enthusiasm and energy mirroring the hectic buzz of golden age Hollywood.
The set design was similarly authentic; despite their limited resources, New Earswick Musicals managed to evoke the cluttered, fast-paced chaos of Tinseltown and the tacky grandeur of Norma Desmond’s palatial home with surprising efficacy through the clever use of projectors, semi-transparent dividers and a few well-chosen props.
Norma herself was brought to life by the stand-out performance of Ann McCreadie. Equal parts commanding, demanding and pathetic, McCreadie’s ability to change between the various facets of the character so rapidly and so completely utterly sold her portrayal of the delusional, dysfunctional and ultimately insane Norma Desmond.
Particular mentions should also be made of Robert Sagar and Amelia Cook as Joe and Betty, whose nuanced performances as partners in a doomed romance complimented each other almost perfectly, and Steve Tearle’s eccentric but also very touching turn as Max, Norma’s devoted butler.
New Earswick Musicals have assembled quite a show in their staging of Sunset Boulevard. It’s moving, dark and, for the most part, very well put together indeed.
Sunset Boulevard, New Earswick Musicals, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, until Saturday. Box office: 0333 666 3366