Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Sunset Boulevard!

YES! As a gift from my mother, we went to see Sunset Boulevard at Värmlandsoperan on December 28!! :-)

I had not seen, nor heard, this musical before, and had only a very vague idea about the storyline, even though I'd heard some of the more well-known songs before. This was very exciting, especially since one of my favourite performers, Christer Nerfont, had the lead part!! He is usually performing at Värmlandsoperan, but unfortunately I haven't had that many opportunities to see him (though I saw him in Wedding Singer last year!)!
The female lead (Norma Desmond) was played by famous Swedish actress Maria Lundqvist, and I was also looking forward to seeing her.

So despite all the illness and sleepless nights I felt quite excited waiting for the musical to begin!! :-)
When walking out of the theatre I had mixed feelings about the production and the musical, but I guess it's almost always like that - you find some things you like and some things you're not that fond of, right?

At first, I wasn't so thrilled with the storyline of the musical, but afterwards, it's kind of grown on me. My first impression was that it was way to 'simple' - and in a way I still feel like that! I wish the story would have been a bit more intricate, because to me, it felt a little flat. Still, after having thought about it, I quite like the 'enigmatic' feel of the musical and the story. For someone in the middle of life to meet someone who lives in complete isolation and almost in another time, and then end up being dragged into this, almost 'fantasy life', it's quite enigmatic and fascinating actually!

As for performers, there were some high points and some not-so-high points!
I was very impressed by Tonje Bakken who played Betty Shaefer!! I had never heard of her before, but she made a really great impression on me! She was very sweet, a good actor and a great singer!! Her duet with Joe Gillis (Christer Nerfont), "Girl Meets Boy" (that's actually the Swedish title, don't know if it's the same in English?) was outstanding!!
The butler, Max von Mayerling, was played by Björn Eudard, another actor/singer connected to Värmlandsoperan. I saw him as Jean Valjean in the Les Misérables production in 1995, and I'm sorry to say he does not impress me ... I feel no stage presence and to be honest and in my humble opinion ... he can't really sing ...

Moving on to the leading parts then! :-)
Maria Lundqvist as Norma Desmond was quite hilarious! :-) She is usually a comedy actress, which showed in the musical as well. I have to be honest and say that you could tell she's not a musical artist, but because of the nature of the part, her skills as comedienne made it possible for her to pull it off! She did parts of it amazingly well, but at some points, it felt like the comedy was going way over the top to cover up the not-so-great singing ... I realize Norma should be over-the-top, but at times I wish to have seen a bit more moderation as well as more musical acting (if you know what I mean).
Still, it was amazing to see Maria live, and for someone not usually working in the musical business, she did a great job!!

And then to my favourite! :-) I have been a great fan of Christer Nerfont ever since I saw him and his wife Cecile perform at a Musical Highlights concert in Helsingborg in 2006, and I stand by my opinion that he would make an international success if he wanted to! :-) The production in Karlstad isn't a great one, and at times, he carried the entire show on his own ... I think it's a shame not more people get to know who he is, because he's outstanding!!
When I go to musicals, it's very important for me that the actors have stage presence - you have to FEEL them on the stage, they have to claim their space and their character for me to notice them - and he does just that!!
Enough ramblings ... sorry! I just wish I'd have the opportunity to see more of him than I do! (I know they made Jekyll and Hyde a few years ago, and I very, very much regret not being able to see him in that ...)

Summarizing, I think that it was a really good production, there were definitely room for improvements, but I liked it a lot and as usual, Christer was fantastic, the true star of the show!!

(I apologize for the lack of pictures, but there's no way I have the time to get my scanner working right now ... sorry.)

Finishing off with a YouTube clip I found (there aren't any of Christer, unfortunately!) of Michael Ball, singing "Sunset Boulevard" ... Enjoy! :-)


The Darkest Night said...

Oh...I'm SO jealous now! I really wanted to see that production.

I really enjoyed reading your review though! I hope I can see the Gothenburg production of it at least... (yes, "Girl Meets Boy" is the English title of the song too...)

I'm quite curious if they followed the original london production or went by the LA production (they did a lot of changes of the musical)..or maybe it was different from both...

Jessica said...

Aw, sorry to make you jealous sis!
I do hope you get to see the Gothenburg production! *fingers crossed*

As to which production they did, I honestly have no idea! *ooops* I was totally clueless about this musical, having only heard one or two songs before ... so I have no clue how they made this one!

Have to say (which should have been included in the review, but I totally forgot) that the first act was really slow and didn't inspire a lot! Even the music felt ... well ... not-musical-music, if you know what I mean! In the intermission I felt a little bit disappointed and not quite so involved as I usually do in a musical.
It picked up A LOT in the second act though, which was SOO much better!! :D

Tobias C Ebersbacher said...

Take a short stroll down to the impressive Gustav Adolf. The divine root of Nordic Countries, Gustav Adolf is implanted feelingly in Sweden's religion. This spot features the most notable religious impression.

The Darkest Night said...

that's ok. i'm glad at least one of us got to see it.

on the cds i think i actually like the first act best LOL but there's probably more things happening in the second act.

I would like to see the movie it's based on some day. I think they really tried to be inspired by that time's music which I think worked brilliantly (it has some of my very favourite musical songs). This is a musical I really got into right away... which doesn't happen very often for me. Will for sure be interesting to see an actual production of it LOL