Powerful female stars pine to walk 'Sunset Boulevard'

March 09, 1994|By Paul Hodgins | Paul Hodgins,Orange County Register

What's the hottest gossip game in Hollywood? It has nothing to do with movies, television or the recording industry. This is stage gossip -- a rarity in the land of filmed, videotaped and recorded make-believe.

It was announced Feb. 18 that Glenn Close will be traveling east this fall to star in the Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Sunset Boulevard."

Ms. Close, who received stratospheric kudos for her portrayal of silent-screen has-been Norma Desmond when the Los Angeles production opened Dec. 9, will reprise the role when "Sunset" opens at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre Nov. 17. She'll complete her engagement at the Shubert Theatre in Century City on June 26.

Now Tinseltown is abuzz with the obvious question: Who will replace Ms. Close in the Shubert's celebrated American-premiere production?

"We really can't comment on the record," said Rick Miramontez, press representative for the Los Angeles production of "Sunset Boulevard." Mr. Miramontez added that the casting change probably would be announced before the end of March.

Here are the contenders, in no particular order of probability: Faye Dunaway, Ann-Margret, Meryl Streep, Rita Moreno and Shirley MacLaine.

It's a tough choice, because the actress must combine star power, acting prowess and -- here's the tough one -- singing ability. That could be a sticking point for an unproven singer like Ms. Dunaway, but remember, Ms. Close wasn't known as a powerful singer before she took the part, and she's been a marvel.

Meanwhile, the producers of London's "Sunset Boulevard," which opened last summer to ho-hum reviews for Mr. Lloyd Webber's music and Patti LuPone's golden-voiced but subdued Norma Desmond, announced that they want to revamp the production to make it more like the Shubert's high-tech, high-spectacle marvel.

That production will close March 12 to accommodate changes of lighting and blocking, the addition of songs and a new Norma: Betty Buckley.

Before Ms. Close's triumphant debut, Ms. LuPone was favored for the New York production over her vocally inferior rival.

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