Nur ein Blick – Thoughts on Sunset Boulevard

The open air theatre of Tecklenburg is one of the more special things to happen in a musical theatre nerd’s summer. Tecklenburg is a small town in western Germany and it’s literally so small it does not even have a trainstation.

Ever since I have been into musical theatre Tecklenburg’s summer festival was something like a place to be in summer, to see their productions. After my last visit two years ago when I went wth my family to see Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay’s Marie Antoinette, this year my second ever visit happened there. This time alone and kind of as a stop in my journey to Frankfurt, where I was visiting a friend. (by now the production is closed….this seems to be a thing on this blog these days – oh, boy!)

This season they happend to show to musicals of Andrey Lloyd Webber – which I am not a huge fan of, but their second production, Sunset Boulevard, appealed to me because you can hear people say Sunset is one of his really good shows.

Because I wanted to go for the uninformed audience-member all the way, I’ve never really listened to the score before (of course I knew all these big time popular songs), when I sat down and the music director came on and started conducting I knew nothing about the structure of the show. (I have to admit, I quite like this perspective…it basically makes you an investigator.) – That’s probably why I had quite a few “That’s quite cool!”-moments during the show and a lot of structural and analytical thinking going on.

The director Andreas Gergen (who is – in my opinion – probably one of the most interesting directors in the German musical community….) added a group of dancers to the ‘normal’ scenery: a woman dressed as a variation of Salome appearing with the head of Jochanaan. From time to time she is joined by a number of male dancers. Beforehand I’ve read about this fact online and most people thought this addition was a little bit too much – since we all get this Salome connotation anyways. I have quite a different view on this, I liked the idea of another ‘layer’ added to the action since it really created a layering effect – there was a scene going on and on another part of the stage Salome would come and ‘join’ them, acting with her acting-partner, the bloody head of Jochanaan. Although it mostly did some foreshadowing or stressing of situations, it at least did this and basically this Salome-branch of what happened was the presentation of the ending all the time. When the show starts off with Joe telling us about the muder, the ending is pretty clear already and when Salome keeps dancing with dead Jochanaan in her arms it stays present throughout the show.

While I could identify the dancing Salome as added into it, being a non-expert-viewer made it hard for me to judge the directing in general – but maybe me not being able to judge it (those who know me: Can you imagine it? Me not being able to judge something?! … Me neither!) is a sign that it was in its way coherent with the material. And sadly that’s all I can say about the directing itself.

For the leads I can say: Boy, that Joe Gillies was a nice one! Julian Looman was very Joe-Gillies-handsome, has a very nice, fitting voice and – last but not least – enough charisma and energy to take the audience with him on the journey thought his story. I wasn’t all too fond of our Norma Maya Hakvoort which was because I knew her voice from an older recording and didn’t like it back then and I didn’t like it in real life as well as I learned and she reminded me of an actress I so absolutely dislike…BUT (and that’s a huge but!) from time to time I felt sorry for her Norma and this (at least to me) seems to be crutial for getting her character: only when we feel sorry for her we see what drives her into her action and we get an idea of the alternative world she has created for herself.

Overall my trip to Tecklenburg this year was a pleasant thing in my summer and I did not regret it. I got to know Sunset Boulevard as a musical itself and this production made me interested enough to keep on listening to the score and finding out things and thinking about the plot and the way it might or might not work…

Have you seen it? What did you think?

And for those who missed it – they published a trailer….

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