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Review: Sunset Boulevard, music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Regent Theatre, Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society, until May 23

PUBLISHED: 13:15 20 May 2015 | UPDATED: 13:15 20 May 2015

Sunset Boulevard Publicity Photos
Please note all rights remain with the Photographer b

Sunset Boulevard Publicity Photos Please note all rights remain with the Photographer b

Sunset Boulevard is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest pieces of musical theatre.

Sunset Boulevard Publicity Photos
Please note all rights remain with the Photographer b Sunset Boulevard Publicity Photos Please note all rights remain with the Photographer b

Based on the iconic film of the same name, the show’s music, drama, plot, and characters are legendary – a fitting show for the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society’s 60th anniversary year.

The show tells the story of faded silent movie star Norma Desmond’s friendship with aspiring Hollywood writer Joe Gillis as he gets swept into her deluded plans to return to the silver screen.

The orchestra, under the baton of Mike Wren, does full justice to Lloyd-Webber’s brilliant score and Mark Connell’s direction and choreography pulls out every inch of drama.

Stephanie Brown, an IODS performer for 30 years of huge talent, is exceptional as she delivers the performance of a lifetime as Norma, brilliantly capturing every nuance of the “greatest star of all” as Norma struggles to reconcile her ambition with cruel obscurity.

Miss Brown expertly and movingly sings the show’s best known hit songs – With One Look and As If We Never Said Goodbye - with superbly controlled power and might and, combined with amazing eye-catching costumes, completely takes control of the Regent stage.

And Jonathan Mudd, another IODS stalwart, is on top form and in fine voice as the show’s leading man Joe as the character struggles to break free from Norma’s clutches and develop his friendship with Betty Schaffer played with skill and energy by the hugely talented Sian Naylor.

As the story develops Joe and Norma’s relationship becomes strained as Norma needs him more and more to support the delusions of her increasingly fragile mind.

Norma makes a triumphant and poignant return to the back lot before her life finally unravels, despite the attention and efforts of her adoring butler Max, played by the skilful James Hayward, to shield her from harsh reality.

And the famously dramatic final scene is excellent as Norma’s madness is fully revealed as she prepares for her final close up.

With no shortage of ability and experience in the supporting cast and a chorus in excellent voice, IODs cements its reputation for quality as it once again meets its own high performance standards.

Sunset Boulevard is another triumph for Ipswich’s much-loved amateur group as it celebrates its 60th anniversary - don’t miss it.

James Marston

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