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Norma Desmond is ready for her close-up. Again. Glenn Close is returning to Broadway as the faded film star aching for a comeback in “Sunset Boulevard.” Ms. Close transfixed New York with her performance as Desmond in 1994; now, after a return to the role in London this year, she is bringing it back to Broadway for 16 weeks beginning in February at the Palace Theater.
“It’s not every day you get to re-explore a character that you did 22 years before,” Ms. Close said in a telephone interview. “To come back to a character as iconic and rich as Norma Desmond is really a privilege — it shows how much you’ve learned in life and in your craft.”
The transfer, which has been widely expected, is likely to mean that the show’s composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, will accomplish the rare feat of having four shows at the same time on Broadway. He wrote the scores for “Cats,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “School of Rock” as well as “Sunset Boulevard,” which is based on a 1950 film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Gloria Swanson.
“It was a phenomenal performance in London — people who had not seen it originally with her were really pretty poleaxed,” Mr. Lloyd Webber said of Ms. Close. “I always thought she was the best Norma Desmond we ever had. She just takes over that role and makes it completely her own.”
In the 1990s, Norma Desmond was first played in London by Patti LuPone, who was promised the Broadway role, but Ms. Close’s performance in a Los Angeles production was so persuasive that the producers replaced Ms. LuPone with Ms. Close, leading to a bitter and costly dispute.
Ms. Close won enormous acclaim — David Richards, writing in The New York Times, declared it “one of those legendary performances people will be talking about years from now.” She went on to win the 1995 Tony Award for best actress in a musical — one of seven Tonys, including best new musical, won by the show that year.
The current production began this year at the English National Opera. The Broadway revival, directed, as in London, by Lonny Price (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill), will have a 40-piece orchestra, which the producers believe to be the largest ever on Broadway; the set will be considerably less elaborate than that of the 1994 production. —The New York Times Theater