The tour will represent the first time the show has been seen in this country outside the West End. It opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London on 12 July 1993, and was seen by over two million people. The Broadway production broke existing records for advance ticket sales and went on to claim seven Tony awards.
Based on Billy Wilder's 1950 Oscar-winning film of the same name, Sunset Boulevard depicts the faded glamour of former Hollywood actress Norma Desmond. The ex-silent movie star is portrayed living in isolation, with only memories for company. However, when struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis appears at her house, she demands a second chance in the limelight.
The creative team behind the new stage version is led by director Robert Carsen. His extensive record includes productions in all of the world's major opera houses, and he directed Lloyd Webber's latest work, The Beautiful Game. Design is by Rob Howell who has worked widely with the Royal Shakespeare Company, plus The Royal Court and Royal National theatres. Choreography comes courtesy of Peter Darling, whose credits contain the film Billy Elliot and Olivier-award winning shows Candide and Merrily We Roll Along.
Although Brown has been confirmed in the lead role, a name for the part of Joe Gillis is still under wraps. A spokesperson for The Really Useful Group said, "there is someone we're very interested in getting for the role of Joe, but no individual can be confirmed as yet." Brown, once voted The Funniest Lady On TV, is a renowned comedian, impressionist and singer from Liverpool. She is also no stranger to the musical stage, having starred as Miss Hannigan in Annie and as Stella in Summer Holiday.
The full tour dates are still awaiting confirmation, although the four-week run in Plymouth will be booking from 14 May. The Theatre Royal's Chief Executive, Adrian Vinken, said: "Sunset Boulevard is a massive show with a massive reputation. Securing Plymouth as the launch venue for its first UK tour is nothing short of a major coup for the Theatre Royal and for the city." Other hit shows to open their tours in Plymouth include Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Fosse.
Other venues so far confirmed are Newcastle Theatre Royal, Hull New Theatre and Southampton Mayflower Theatre.
- by Gareth Thompson