Sunset’s simply epic at the Cliffs

Ria Jones as Norma Desmond

THE iconic musical theatre masterpiece that is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard rolled into Southend this week and it matches expectations on every level.
It’s difficult to say which of the music, the stars or the set impresses most – together they make the production at the Cliffs Pavilion something very special indeed.
Based on Billy Wilder’s iconic film of the same name, Lloyd Webber’s Sunset features book and lyrics by the talents of Don Black and Christopher Hampton to tell the tale of actress Norma Desmond’s struggle to cope with her life outside of the limelight.
Desmond is played by Ria Jones whose vocal talents are immense. Alongside her in the spotlight former Hollyoaks actor and Strictly finalist Danny Mac whose performance outshone all my expectations.
Together with an ensemble cast of many talents, backed by the 16 piece show orchestra under the baton of Adrian Kirk Lloyd Webber’s brooding score sweeps over an enthralled audience, who are equally impressed by the superb staging, which switches from Desmond’s home to a Hollywood film set. It’s a wonderfully staged production with some really innovative elements.
Mac, who returned to the production at Southend after a short break, says that as well as it being a real privilege to be working on such a fantastic show, with a superb cast and creative team, it’s also a real dream.
“It’s an honour to be working with such a talented and committed group of both cast and creatives,” he says.
“I get to work on a show that is regarded as one of the greats, it’s up there with the likes of Les Mis and Miss Saigon, and get to do it alongside people who are right at the top of their game. Sunset Boulevard is the real deal. Lots of shows go out on tour every year but, while obviously I’m slightly biased, it has everything.
“Its score is very reminiscent of classic cinema and there are definitely no half measures. Everyone is so invested in bringing it to life and even when I’m on stage it’s hard not to be swept away by the performances and the wonderful music.”
He is not the only one swept away. This is a superb show and if you get the chance while it is here, don’t miss it.

* Performances until Saturday. Tickets from £36.50 to £52.50.