OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Drury Lane's 'Sunset Boulevard' a remarkable ride

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-02-06T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Drury Lane's 'Sunset Boulevard' a remarkable rideBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

It's difficult, but possible, to improve on perfection.

Drury Lane Theatre accomplishes this and more with their new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway musical "Sunset Boulevard," playing now until March 24 at this favorite dinner theater stage venue in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

While the 1950 original film by Billy Wilder starring Gloria Swanson and Bill Holden is iconic, seeing this same story of faded fame and hopeful comeback come to life, and in living color, is nothing short of extraordinary.

And leading the all-star cast, it's Christine Sherrill who deserves every bit of the spotlight playing the tragic silent film star Norma Desmond. Through her portrayal, the audience escapes into the mind of Norma Desmond during this two and a half hour story. Her delivery, both crisp and clipped, with a tinge of both comedy and tragedy, offers the perfect approach.

At her side, and worthy of equal praise are the powerful pipes and strong talent of Will Ray stepping into the Holden role of Joe Gillis, the down-and-out Hollywood writer who becomes the movie star's love interest.

"Sunset Boulevard" is masterfully directed by William Osetek who is able to capture all of the chemistry and magic of the characters who have fascinated audiences for decades.

It's easy to understand how this musical was the winner of seven Tony Awards in 1995, with a breathtaking score by Webber and book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton.

Don Richard is better than better as Max, the odd and attentive butler who protects the past and guides the future of the household he controls.

Rounding out the cast is Jonathan Weir as Hollywood director Demille, Dara Cameron as Betty Schaeffer, Adrian Aguilar as pal Artie and David Kortemeier as "Hog Eye," with Larry Adams, William Carlos Angulo, Amy Brophy, Gary Carlson, Devin DeSantis, Ariane Dolan, Cory Goodrich, Rachel Klippel, Andrew Lupp, Alex McCrary, Alex Newkirk, Amy Orman, Sarah Page, Jill Sesso and Will Skrip in the ensemble.

Look for actress Paula Scrofano, who played the role of Norma Desmond in the first regional production of "Sunset Boulevard," back in 2004, at Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire. For this turn, she sparkles slipping in and out of a variety of fun characters, ranging from a studio costume designer a la Edith Head to playing gossip columnist Hedda Hopper for the final scene.

Jeff Award winner Roberta Duchak serves as musical director of this production, which keeps an audience thinking about the songs and score long after leaving the theater. The choreography by Jeff Award winner Tammy Mader is flawless and the ingenious set design by Scott Davis, lighting design by Rita Pietraszek and costume design by Theresa Hamm, are out of this world.

Tickets are $35 to $68, including lunch and dinner package options at (630) 530-0111 or drurylaneoakbrook.com.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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