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'Boulevard' already on road to success

NEW YORK - You can measure it in dollars: Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard is the most eagerly anticipated Broadway of all time.

One the eve of its opening tonight at the Minskoff Theater, the show's advance ticket sales inched past Miss Saigon's record of $37 million.

Nobody is surprised. Everything about the show inspires excess and opulence: The $13 million production, most expensive in Broadway history, includes a 16-ton set of the gothic mansion of the faded film star Norma Desmond, the swimming pool her dead lover is found floating in and a recreated 1931 Isotta Fraschini auto like the one Gloria Swanson had in the 1950 film.

In the center of it all is Glenn Close's portrayal of Norma, which is heralded by extravagant praise she drew last year in the Los Angeles production. "She's the best thing I've ever seen. I'd come here every night if I could", says Jack Yarbrough, 42, who stood in the ticket cancellation line Tuesday to see Close for the third time within a week.

She's just one of several factors. Janet Robinson of Group Sales Box Office says she's selling tickets for next fall, long after Close departs in July. The total package is appealing: Lloyd Webber's score, Barbra Streisand's recordings of it and the story of Norma Desmond, whose persona grows more vivid with the addition of music.

Even Faye Dunaway's lawsuit against Lloyd Webber for firing her from the Los Angeles production hasn't hurt. "It just reinforced the fact that a big Andrew Lloyd Webber piece is coming to New York", Robinson says. "This has been gigantic. We've never had a show that came close".

David Patrick Stearns, USA Today, 17 November 1994


Copyright © 2002 M. Kniestedt. All rights reserved.