Boundary-breaking musical

Performers at Rugby Theatre are taking the musical to the next level with their production of Sunset Boulevard, which opens at the Henry Street venue on Saturday.
Sunset BoulevardSunset Boulevard
Sunset Boulevard

Not only has director Alan Pavis pulled together a sparkling cast and a top creative team, he and musical director Jon Watson, are also assembling the largest orchestra the theatre has ever seen for one of its productions.

Alan said: “We are one of just a few amateur theatres lucky enough to secure the rights to stage one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most celebrated musicals.

“But we were only allowed to sign up for the show on the understanding that we would use a minimum of 17 in the orchestra.

“Which is fine, until you realise that there is only room in the orchestra pit in the theatre for 13.”

The problem was solved by putting the orchestra in a room in Central Hall across the road from the theatre, and having a live digital feed of the music to the stage.

The show is based on a 1950 film starring Gloria Swanson, and weaves a tale of faded glory and unfulfilled ambition.

Silent movie star Norma Desmond longs for a return to the big screen, her glamour faded in all but her mind. When she meets struggling Hollywood screenwriter Joe Gillis in dramatic circumstances, their subsequent passionate and volatile relationship leads to an unforeseen and tragic conclusion.

The show was a hit on Broadway and in the West End, starring such stage and screen greats as Glenn Close, Betty Buckley, Petula Clark and Elaine Paige.

Rayner Wilson takes on the Norma Desmond role at the town’s Henry Street theatre, with Chris Gilbey-Smith playing Joe Gillis.

The show runs until October 17. Tickets are available by calling 01788 541234 or visiting