Sunset Boulevard
Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre presents
Sunset Boulevard

8 Oct 2014 to 25 Oct 2014

Set in the busy and cut-throat world of Hollywood in 1949. We are introduced to Joe Gillis a writer, trying to pitch his idea to one of the studio bosses. Joe has fallen on hard times and is being closely followed by repossession agents who are threatening to take away his car. Joe tries to lose his pursuers and drives through the streets of Hollywood and into Sunset Boulevard.

Unsure of where he is, he ends up in the gardens of a mansion owed by Norma Desmond a former film star. In the late 1920’s films began to use sound and very quickly ‘talkies’ overtook silent movies in popularity, until they finally died away.

Joe recognizes Norma and we learn that she was the greatest silent movie star of all time, but as the genre died so did Norma’s career. Now she lives rich but alone with the exception of Max, her butler and refuses to accept that her career and fame has faded.

JOE: You used to be in pictures, you used to be big.

NORMA: I am big…it’s the pictures that got small!

Norma plans to make a comeback after 20 years out of the business and she sees an opportunity in the young writer stranded in her house. She has written a screenplay based on the biblical story of “Salome” and Norma asks Joe if he will work for her and edit the script. She plans to give it to the famous director Cecil B. DeMille and is sure he’ll want to give her the job. Joe is unsure at first, but then agrees to help her.

Back at the studio Joe meets Betty Schaefer, she turns out to be in a relationship with Joe’s friend Artie Green. Betty convinces Joe to work with her on a script, which she thinks is certain to get produced. In the meantime Norma has had all of Joe’s belongings brought to her house and although Joe is unwilling to move in at first, he realises that as he is so poor he has no choice.

Soon the eccentric Norma Desmond develops feelings for Joe and although she doesn’t pay him, she lavishes him with new clothes and gifts. On New Year’s Eve Joe turns down Norma’s invitation to her party, instead he goes to see his friends Betty and Artie. Max informs Joe that because of his rejection Norma has attempted to kill herself.

Joe returns to Norma and finishes editing “Salome” and the script is sent to DeMille. An impatient Norma waits for a response and meanwhile Joe continues to work with Betty on their new script. While Artie is away working, Betty and Joe get closer and begin to fall in love.

Days pass and finally Norma receives a call from the studio, but it’s Norma’s classic car that they are interested in and not her. Max hasn’t the heart to tell her the news. Norma marches off, triumphantly she thinks, to meet DeMille who humours her, but remains vague about her film.

It’s not long before Norma finds out about Joe’s relationship with Betty. She phones Betty to warn her off, but Joe catches her and takes the phone off her. Sick of Norma’s control over him he asks Betty to come to the mansion. When Betty arrives, Joe tells Norma that he and Betty are leaving. Norma is outraged and as they leave she pulls out a gun and shoots Joe, killing him. Norma swiftly descends into madness and in the final moments of the show, Norma believes she is on the set, making her comeback film and the curtainfalls with her most famous line:

"...And now, Mr. De Mille, I am ready for my close-up."

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The Q - Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre
Session TimesTicket PricesDuration
150 minutes (inc interval)
Photo GalleryMedia

Creatives Stephen Pike Stephen Pike
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Cast Bronwyn Sullivan Bronwyn Sullivan
Norma Desmond

Born in Sydney, Bronwyn studied music and drama before moving to Canberra.  She established herself as an outstanding song stylist and music theatre leading lady and in 1978 won the Canberra Southern Cross Club’s Entertainer of the Year.  In the same year she made her stage debut as Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof.  Since then she has performed many leading roles including Julie in Showboat, Grace Farrell in Annie, Elsa Schraeder in The Sound of Music, Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof for which she won a Canberra Area Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Musical, Mama Morton in Chicago, Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly, Marion Woolnough in The Boy from Oz and last year as Madame Giry in The Phantom of the Opera.  She also appeared as Vanessa in the Australian premiere of Careful He Might Hear You and as Emma in the Australian premiere of Jekyll and Hyde.  A highlight was to perform the title role in the Argentinian opera Maria de Buenos Aires.

Bronwyn is equally at home in cabaret and has had seasons at The School of Arts Café, The Hyatt Hotel and Teatro Vivaldi both solo and with her daughter Fiona.  She was the vocalist with jazz band Swing in Style and has appeared at many concerts including as a soloist with the Canberra Pops Orchestra, the Band of the Royal Military College Duntroon and the Australian Army Bands Melbourne and Sydney. 

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