The show received its American premiere on 9th December 1993 at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles. The LA production starred Glenn Close (Norma Desmond), Alan Campbell (Joe Gillis), Judy Kuhn (Betty Schaefer) and George Hearn (Max von Mayerling), with Close, Campbell and Hearn going on to recreate their roles for the show’s 1994 Broadway opening at the Minskoff Theatre on 17th November 1994 – they were also joined by Alice Ripley as Betty Schaefer. That production opened with the highest advance in Broadway history at the time ($37.5 million in ticket sales).
Sunset Boulevard weaves a magnificent tale of faded glory and unfulfilled ambition. Silent movie star Norma Desmond longs for a return to the big screen, having been discarded by tinsel town with the advent of “talkies.” Her glamour has faded in all but her mind. When she meets struggling Hollywood screen-writer Joe Gillis in dramatic circumstances, their subsequent passionate and volatile relationship leads to an unforeseen and tragic conclusion.
The Toronto production of the show opened on 15th October 1995 starring Diahann Carroll (Norma), Rex Smith (Joe) and Walter Charles (Max). The US National Tour of Sunset Boulevard premiered in June 1996 with Linda Balgord in the starring role.
A US Tour opened in Pittsburgh in December 1998 and starred Petula Clark in the lead role, and a UK Tour starring Faith Brown as Norma Desmond and Earl Carpenter as Joe Gillis opened in 2001. In summer 2008, a scaled-down production of Sunset Boulevard played at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, UK, receiving rave reviews.