Home » Sunset Blvd. – Music Theatre of CT, Norwalk, USA

Sunset Blvd. – Music Theatre of CT, Norwalk, USA

by Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta
Music Theatre of Connecticut - Sunset Blvd.
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MTC - Sunset Blvd - Elizabeth Ward Land, Trevor Martin - photo by Alex Mongillo

The musical, Sunset Boulevard. based on Billy Wilder’s film of the same name, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, sizzles at the Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk under the directorship of Kevin Connors and musical directorship of David John Moore, and their highly credentialed cast. The Music Theatre of Connecticut celebrates its 36th season with the sensational production of Sunset Blvd. The musical runs until October 2, 2022, and if you love musicals and "film-noir" this one should be on your "must see" list.


We have seen the 1950 Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett film Sunset Boulevard starring Gloria Swanson, William Holden, and Erich von Stroheim countless times and it never fails to excite each time that we watch it. The film noir is flawless; deftly telling the tale about a beautiful but aging silent-film star Norma Desmond played by Gloria Swanson, who lives a life of luxury and fantasy in a huge mansion on Sunset Blvd. yet has virtually become a recluse with the advent of "talkies." While once commanding the attention of Hollywood and the adoration of fans, the times have changed and she longer receives film scripts, yet she is hopeful and believes that "the studio" will be calling her to come back and make more films, even after an absence of more than 20 years.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Sunset Blvd. - Elizabeth Ward Land, Trevor Martin - photo by Alex Mongillo
Elizabeth Ward Land (Norma Desmond)
Trevor Martin (Joe Gillis)
Sunset Blvd.

In the film, William Holden plays the young and handsome Joe Gillis, whom is being chased by collectors that want to repossess his car. Driving into the hills, he comes upon Norma’s mansion with a large garage, where he hides his car, and thus begins a new chapter in Norma’s life as Max, Norma’s dedicated and trustworthy butler ushers Joe into the house in a case of mistaken identity.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Sunset Blvd. - Elizabeth Ward Land, Trevor Martin - photo by Alex Mongillo
Elzabeth Ward Land (Norma Desmond)
Trevor Martin (Joe Gillis)
Sunset Blvd.

When Norma learns that Joe is a screenwriter, she enlists him to help her edit her screenplay. What starts out as a convenient friendship between the two takes a turn as Norma becomes aggressively possessive about Joe and his time not spent with her. For Norma, she sees Joe as her lover, her trusted friend, her "kept man," and thinks that Joe feels the same way about her, even though he is a much younger man.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Sunset Blvd. - Sandra Marante - photo by Alex Mongillo
Sandra Marante (Betty Schaefer)
Sunset Blvd.

For Joe, what once was a convenience, living in a luxurious Hollywood mansion, wearing expensive clothes, having money, and a place to write, has become a prison of sorts, and he seeks out the companionship of people his own age, and eventually finds love with Betty Schaefer, a young screenwriter. Erich von Stroheim plays Norma’s loyal and protective butler, Max, whom we learn later in the movie was her director in her heyday and was also married to her.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Sunset Blvd. - James Patterson - photo by Alex Mongillo
James Patterson (Max Von Mayerling)
Sunset Blvd.

As we had seen the film many times, we were curious to see how the film would be adapted into a musical. We attended opening night, Saturday, September 17, 2022, to see Sunset Boulevard the musical, at the Music Theatre of Connecticut, and it was wonderful.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Sunset Blvd. - The Cast - photo by Alex Mongillo
The Cast
Sunset Blvd.

The musical follows the film’s scenes and dialogue with a well-chosen cast, with the setting in Los Angeles between 1949-1950. Broadway veteran Elizabeth Ward Land is captivating as Norma Desmond, as is Trevor Martin in the role of the young screenwriter Joe Gillis. James Patterson gives such dignity to his role as Max Von Mayerling that his performance is heartbreaking to watch at times. Jeff Gurner, whom we had seen in MTC past productions of The Buddy Holly Story, TRU, It’s A Wonderful Life, A Life Radio Play; and Ragtime, The Musical, shows once again his versatility as a dynamic actor, this time in his role of studio head, Cecil B. DeMille, and others. Sandra Marante plays Betty Schaefer, a young and enthusiastic screenwriter, whom Joe writes with, and later falls in love with, bringing on the ire of Norma., with tragic results.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Sunset Blvd. - Elizabeth Ward Land, Jeff Gurner - photo by Alex Mongillo
Elizabeth Ward Land (Norma Desmond)
Jeff Gurner (Cecil B. DeMille)
Sunset Blvd.

Rounding out the cast are Emily Solo as Mary and others, Jacob Sundlie as Artie Green, Betty’s fiancé, Paul Aguirre as Morino and others, Philip Callen as Mr. Sheldrake and others, Helen Clare as Heather and others, Matt Grasso as Mr. Manfred and others, and Leigh Martha Klinger as Joanna and others.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Sunset Blvd. - Elizabeth Ward Land - photo by Alex Mongillo
Elizabeth Ward Land (Norma Desmond)
Sunset Blvd.

As with the best noir, Sunset Boulevard the musical is intense, yet thrilling, and engaging to watch from the opening scene until the last when a deranged Norma proclaims to Mr. DeMille that she is ready for her close-up. Once again, MTC Founders Kevin Connors and Jim Schilling have chosen well, bringing Sunset Boulevard the musical to celebrate their 36th season, and for that, these theatregoers are greatly appreciative.

As we attended opening night, there was a reception that followed with the cast hosted byRomanacci of Norwalk, CT.

Until next time, keep enjoying and supporting the arts!

Sunset Boulevard runs from September 16 through October 2, 2022. The play runtime is 2 hours and 15 minutes with an intermission.

Sunset Boulevard Performance Schedule: Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 p, and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm.

For information or to purchase tickets, please visit the website: https://www.musictheatreofct.com/, call the box office at 1-203-454-3883, or email them at: admin@musictheatreofct.com. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am until 3:30 pm and 2 hours before every performance.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Sunset Blvd. - Cast photos

Sunset Boulevard – The Cast

Paul Aguirre
Morino & others
Philip Cohen
Mr. Sheldrake & others
Helen Clare
Heather & others
Matt Grasso
Mr. Manfred & others
Jeff Gurner
Cecil B. DeMille & others
Leigh Martha Klinger
Joanna & others (understudy for Norma Desmond)
Elizabeth Ward Land
Norma Desmond
Sandra Marante
Betty Schaefer
Trevor Martin
Joe Gillis
James Patterson
Max Von Mayerling
Emily Solo
Mary & others
Jacob Sundlie
Artie Green

Sunset Boulevard – The Creative Team

Andrew Lloyd Webber
Don Black/Christopher Hampton
Book & Lyrics
Will Atkin
Sound Design
Sean Sanford
Prop Design
Diane Vanderkroef
Costume Design
RJ Romero
Lighting Design
Lindsay Fuori
Scenic Design
Abbey Murray
Stage Manager
Corinne C. Broadbent
David John Moore
Musical Direction
Kevin Connors

Sunset Boulevard – The Musicians

David John Madore
Tony Bellomy
Keyboard II
Jerold Goldstein
Keyboard III
Rich Zurkowsky
Nate Dobas
Gary Ruggiero

Current and Upcoming Productions for 2022 – 2023

Sunset Blvd.
September 16-October 2, 2022
Lend Me A Tenor
November 4-20, 2022
Holiday on Broadway
December 9-18, 2022
I Hate Hamlet
February 3-19, 2023
The Rocky Horror Show
March 17-April 2, 2023

About MTC

"Music Theatre of Connecticut is the premier provider of musical theatre performance and training. Founded in 1987, we produce an annual series of Equity productions featuring New York professionals (MTC MainStage), numerous annual student productions, and a conservatory-style School of Performing Arts with curriculum-based training for students ages four through high school, including the nationally recognized College-Bound in the Performing Arts program for performance career-focused high school students."

The Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC) was founded in 1987 by Kevin Connors (Artistic Director and Co-Founder) and Jim Schilling (Co-Founder), where MTC’s focus is musical theatre performance and training.

For more information, please visit their website: www.MusicTheatreofCT.com.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Norwalk, CT

Music Theatre of Connecticut
509 Westport Avenue
(Enter the Bright Beginnings parking lot and look for MTC’s orange awning)
Norwalk, Connecticut 06851
United States
Box Office: +1-203-454-3883
Fax: +1-203-557-0496
Website: www.MusicTheatreofCT.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MusicTheatreCT/?ref=br_tf
Instagram: @musictheatrect
Twitter: @musictheatrect

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