note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Beverly Creasey
Anyone who has seen an old silent movie knows the power a single image possesses. "We didn't need words" says the larger than life star of "Sunset Boulevard" --- "We had faces."
Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of the 1950 Billy Wilder classic has come to Boston at last, with Petula Clark as Norma Desmond. Ironically, it's Clark's voice which dominates the stage at the Wang Center. She speaks and sings with grandeur in her vocal chords, projecting a Tallulah Bankhead brand of female authority.
Allen Fitzgerald in the Eric von Stroheim part certainly looks like the imposing German director, but sings (terrifically, mind you) in such a high voice it is jarring. I couldn't associate the voice with von Stroheim. Richard Qalls steals the "flashy new wardrobe" scene out from everyone as an oily suit salesman.
No credit for make-up is listed in the program ... most likely because Petula Clark looks at times like a cadaverously elderly Bette Davis, or worse like The Phantom (unmasked!). Gloria Swanson looked garish in the film, but not this bad. If there was a reason for this make-up, it was lost on me. We already know she's a monster, but shouldn't she be a pathetic one>