The Media Theatre presents the Tony winning musical Sunset Boulevard April 16-May 18. It's Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s take on Billy Wilder’s legendary film focusing on the silent film star Norma Desmond as she hopes for a return to screen glory during the advent of the talkies.
Tony nominee Ann Crumb plays Norma Desmond in director Jesse Cline’s production. She is joined by a stellar cast. This Who’s Who series will place the spotlight on several of the other cast members in the show. The musical is brought to The Media Theatre stage by Media Music Theatre Company.
Kelly Briggs plays the role of Cecil B. Demille, the legendary film director who Desmond approaches in order to fulfill her return to glory. He was last seen on The Media Theatre stage as Mr. Babcock alongside Andrea McArdle in 2013’s Mame also directed by Cline. That production traveled to the renowned Bucks County Playhouse and won several Broadway World Awards for “Best of Philadelphia Theatre” including an honor for Briggs as Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.
This is not Briggs’ first Webber musical, as he ventured into the world of Cats for three years on Broadway and on tour. “It is great doing a musical of Sir Webber’s once again,” he said. “After doing Cats I did the National Tour, playing both Old Deuteronomy and the track of Bustopher Jones/ Gus/ Growltiger.”
Briggs had been a Broadway veteran by that time. “Cats was after my 7 and a half years in the Broadway and National Companies of Les Miserables as the Bishop of Digne, while covering the roles of Valjean and Thenardier,” he explained. “I’ve been blessed in so many ways. Receiving the honor from Broadway World for Mame last year meant so much, as well as the New Jersey Broadway World Award last year for “Best Cabaret/ Musical Performance”. And fortunately I was able to return to the role of Thenardier this past summer in Surflight’s production of Les Miserables.”
He continued, “And now onto Media’s production of Sunset Boulevard, which has an amazing group of actors. Jesse Cline’s vision of the story is unlike any I have seen. Audiences will definitely walk away from this production understanding why Media Music Theatre Company has received so many awards and accolades during its two decades of music theatre.”
As for his view of the musical itself, Briggs finds that “There are many similarities with Sunset Boulevard and the other legendary works of Sir Webber. The musical themes that each character carries are prevalent in most of his works, which assist in causing his compositions to be so memorable.”
To those who are familiar with the classic Billy Wilder film of which Sunset Boulevard is based, Briggs explains “It is great material for a musical. The dramatic narrative of a silent movie star whose life was thrown into chaos by the advent of the talkies, the time period, the characters—it’s so perfect to tell with music.”
Just as film has changed over the decades due to the technology which was the thorn in Norma Desmond’s career, the world of live theatre has progressed as well. To that, Briggs says “Musical theatre has changed tremendously through the years. It is the one performing art that we Americans created. At first it was the melding of Drama, Opera, and Ballet. The story was strengthened through the song and dance. Now there are different forms of the musical. But I do feel there are writers out there who are getting back to the classic original form of this art.”
Sunset Boulevard reminds us of the classic, original form of the art of motion pictures while it also melds a classic music theatre narrative with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s unique style which, ironically, created a sub-genre of its own to the world of Broadway from the late ‘70’s to the ‘90’s. It is this blending of the past with the present which will, forever, give life to Norma Desmond’s world.
To see Tony nominee Ann Crumb, Kelly Briggs, and the entire cast in director Jesse Cline’s production of Sunset Boulevard April 16-May 18, call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org