Over the years, so many people have mistaken me for the great silent film actress Norma Desmond. And why wouldn’t they? With my large expressive eyes, my dramatic gestures and my haughty strut, we could actually be sisters! Only my downy feathers and large yellow beak belie my true identity as Mother Goose, and not the aging Miss Desmond.
And yet even at yesterday’s Drury Lane’s exquisite matinee production of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard”, many people in the audience stage whispered behind their hands, “There she is! It’s the REAL Norma, right?” I smiled, nodded and waved majestically in their general direction as I took my fifth row center seat in the already-filled theatre. My guests and I were fashionably and dramatically late in arriving.
I snapped a couple of pictures before I was severely admonished by the young red-coated usher. More and more often, Mother Goose is coming under fire for capturing the moments in public…
The house lights went down as the orchestra began the overture, and Mother Goose was swept away into the magic of the play. Onstage, the story played out, quite closely following Billy Wilder’s 1950 film. But, of course, it was the music that sent Mother Goose into fits of delight and tears and honking and flapping.
I must admit that when I looked at the Playbill and saw that Norma would be played by a VERY young actress, Miss Christine Sherrill, I wondered about the sensibility of the director. How could such a young and unwrinkled face become the face of an aging silent film star? As usual, Mother Goose was over-reacting, perhaps even over-acting, because Miss Sherrill was completely believable as Norma. And her voice is powerful and sweet and strangely sad all at the same time. Though Norma has been well-played on Broadway by the incredible likes of Glenn Close and Betty Buckley, Miss Sherrill was delightfully fresh and obviously perfectly cast.
I couldn’t have done better myself.
The musical was full of surprises so I cannot give you any more details about the story line or the sets or the props or the characters or the costumes or the make-up or the ending. I would like to suggest that you see the show yourself if you are in the Chicagoland area. The show runs through April 7th at Drury Lane in Oakbrook. And if by chance you live elsewhere, then my deepest and darkest sympathies to you for not being able to see Sunset Boulevard. Or if you live in Hollywood, please feel free to invite me to your home and we will visit the Boulevard together.
“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up…”