Sunset Boulevard

In 1949 Hollywood, down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis tries to hustle up some work at Paramount Studios. He meets with a producer who shoots down his proposed script as well as a request for a loan to bring his car payments up to date. He does, however, meet Betty Schaefer, a pretty, young script editor who proposes they work together to develop one of his earlier projects. As they chat, Joe is spotted by car repossession agents and makes a quick escape. During the car chase that ensues down Sunset Boulevard, Joe evades his pursuers by pulling into the garage of a dilapidated mansion. Beckoned inside the house, Joe encounters Norma Desmond, the “greatest star of all” from the silent film era who never made the transition to sound movies. Taken aback, Joe comments, “You used to be in pictures – you used to be big,” to which she retorts, “I am big … it’s the pictures that got small!”

The huge, gloomy estate is inhabited only by Norma and Max, her loyal butler and chauffeur. Although decades past her prime and mostly forgotten by once-adoring fans, Norma is convinced she is as beautiful and popular as ever. She informs Joe of her intention to return to the screen with a script she’s written for Cecil B. DeMille to direct called Salome, with her in the starring role as a 16-year-old seductress. Sensing an opportunity, Joe persuades Norma to let him revise the story in exchange for room and board. Joe quickly realizes the script is an incoherent jumble that no amount of editing could fix, but he keeps this fact to himself and the revision continues for several months. During this time he strikes up a working relationship with Betty, which blossoms into a romance that has her reconsidering her recent engagement to Artie, Joe’s best friend.

Blind to Joe’s opportunism, Norma lavishes him with gifts that include a complete wardrobe makeover. She professes her love to Joe and becomes quite possessive; when he leaves the house to attend a friend’s New Year’s Eve party, she attempts suicide. To placate her, Joe reluctantly returns to finish his work on Salome. Their relationship turns sexual, and Joe ends up becoming her kept man. Someone from Paramount phones the mansion with a cryptic request. Certain DeMille is eager to shoot her script, Norma drops in on the set of his current film. She is greeted warmly by former colleagues and the director himself, but DeMille remains non-committal about Salome. Meanwhile, Max discovers it’s Norma’s exotic car the studio wants for an upcoming movie, not her. However, the delusional Norma leaves the lot convinced she’ll be back in front of the cameras in short order. Norma eventually deduces that Joe and Betty are lovers. She calls the younger woman to confront her, but Joe grabs the phone and tells Betty to come see for herself how he lives. Realizing their affair is doomed, Joe roughly tells Betty he likes being Norma’s pet and that she should go back to Artie. After Betty departs, broken-hearted, Joe tells Norma he’s leaving her and returning to his home town in Ohio. He also bluntly informs her that Salome will never be filmed and her fans have abandoned her. Furious and grief-stricken, Norma fatally shoots Joe.

Completely fallen into insanity, Norma mistakes the police who soon arrive for studio personnel and her beloved fans. Thinking she is on the set of Salome, Norma slowly descends her grand staircase and speaks the immortal phrase, “And now, Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close-up.”


Production Team

Director – Jason Capewell

Musical Director – James Maddison

Choreographer – Claire Flavell

Accompanist – Adam Joy



Character Name
Norma Desmond This part to be shared equally between: Collette Forsyth to perform Wed Matinee, Thu and Sat Evening Sarah Moors to perform Tues, Wed Evening, Friday and Sat Matinee
Joe Gillis Leon Davies
Betty Schaefer Olivia Jones
Artie Green Callum McArthur
Max von Mayerling Tim Jones
Cecil B DeMille Mike Thomas
Sheldrake Paul Roberts
Manfred Nick Sullivan
Heather Megan Lacey
Jones Peter Worrall
Guard Aidan Cutler
Hog-Eye Simon Peacock
The following people will be cast in one or several roles throughout the rehearsal period. Everyone will be heavily featured in this show:  
  Stephen Clancey
  Tasheka Coe
  Debbie Cook
  Kim Lavender
  Beth Mahoney
  Emma Wetherall