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Last night, a rainy Thursday in November, I watched Sunset Boulevard at the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End, starring Nicole Scherzinger as the musical’s lead, Norma Desmond.

In a nutshell, the musical was darkly funny, cinematic, and edgy. It’s a brilliant piece of theatre – and I say this as a London kid who grew up watching some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest hits!

So here’s my Sunset Boulevard review (currently on at the Savoy Theatre, right next to the Savoy Hotel.)

If you don’t have time to read this review and you’re a theatre buff in or visiting London, then long story short, you should go and see Sunset Boulevard with Nicole Scherzinger.

Snap up tickets quick though – the show ends its limited run in January 2024!

Please note, affiliate links have been used throughout this post.

Sunset Boulevard Review: Nicole Scherzinger at the Savoy Theatre London

illuminated West End Poster of Sunset Boulevard Review London Savoy Theatre Starring Nicole Scherzinger against the Savoy Hotel architecture

West End poster of Sunset Boulevard at the Savoy Theatre in London, featuring Nicole Scherzinger as Norma Desmond

What is Sunset Boulevard, or Sunset Blvd., based on?

Sunset Boulevard – what a classic! Originally a critically-acclaimed film noir directed by Billy Wilder back in 1950, this iconic piece of film was adapted for the stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1993.

With its engrossing portrayal of Hollywood’s darker side, it’s a story that the world can’t get enough of.

Glenn Close performed as Norma Desmond on Webber’s award-winning Broadway production at the Minskoff Theatre in 1994.

From October 2023 to January 2024, at the Savoy Theatre in London, produced by The Jamie Lloyd Company, Nicole Scherzinger takes the lead in a cuttingly contemporary, diverse, ‘new-school’ approach to faded fame that’s relatable for younger generations.

This musical also marks the launch of the Lloyd Webber Harrison Musicals company – a collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Harrison.

Poster of Sunset Boulevard at the Savoy Theatre in London: "Nicole Scherzinger is the greatest star of London theatre right now"

Poster of Sunset Boulevard at the Savoy Theatre in London: “Nicole Scherzinger is the greatest star of London theatre right now”

Is Nicole Scherzinger good in Sunset Boulevard?

I’ve loved Nicole Scherzinger for years, not just because she’s of Filipino heritage, but also because of her stunning vocals, her theatrical talent, and the energy she brings to every performance.

I think she’s super underrated!

Every time she pops up in conversation, I’ll end up linking someone to her incredible rendition of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ from 2013, introduced by Michael Ball and Andrew Lloyd Webber, or her riveting performance as Christine for ‘Phantom of The Opera’ at the Royal Variety Performance in 2012:

Last night, as Norma Desmond, Nicole Scherzinger absolutely bloody smashed her performance as a ‘delusional diva’. She laid herself physically and emotionally bare – plus her athleticism was on another level.

She brought just the right amount of self-knowing and comedic timing to her role.

And her vocals, of course, were unbelievable. A true diva powerhouse.

Nicole Scherzinger’s singing career took off when she was part of pop girl group, The Pussycat Dolls. The group became super famous in the mid-2000s with iconic chart-topping hits like ‘Buttons’ and ‘Don’t Cha?’ that showcased Nicole’s powerful voice and awesome stage presence.

New York Times Review of Sunset Boulevard Review London Savoy Theatre Starring Nicole Scherzinger

New York Times Review of Sunset Boulevard: “A Career-Defining Performance” for Nicole Scherzinger

After the group broke up, Nicole went on to have a successful solo career, releasing two studio albums and a bunch of singles that once again climbed the charts. I’m thrilled that she’s once again collaborating with Andrew Lloyd Webber – they’ve got serious synergy.

In 2014, Nicole made her West End debut in the revival of Cats, where she played Grizabella to got rave reviews. This success has led to her role in Sunset Boulevard, where she is once again blowing audiences away with an amazing performance as Norma Desmond.

Sunset Boulevard Programme PDF from the Savoy Theatre in London, with its stark monochrome and red design

Cast and crew credits on the Sunset Boulevard Programme from the Savoy Theatre in London, with its stark monochrome and red design

What’s the Stage Production of Sunset Boulevard Like?

At first glance, the setup of Sunset Boulevard seems the epitome of minimalism. Drawing inspiration from Billy Wilder’s impressively acerbic original film, the entire production unfolds in black and white – except, of course, for the blood.

This isn’t really a spoiler since the show begins with Joe, our narrator (played by Tom Francis), extricating himself from a body bag.

Soutra Gilmour’s stark stage — devoid of props and filled with more smoke — is bordered by light boxes and a colossal, precariously angled LCD screen as a backdrop.

This setup gives Lloyd the liberty to play around with the concept of screenwriting and film. In a production known for its fixation with close-ups and the silver screen, this approach fits perfectly.

Despite the musical being three decades old, Lloyd’s production, obsessed with technology and visuals, creates a modern twist.

I loved the self-awareness that having a handheld camera stream brought. Maybe it’s because I’m a photographer and videographer, or always the person documenting things, but I felt it was an interesting choice in today’s era of vlogging.

Favourite Moments from Sunset Boulevard at the Savoy Theatre starring Nicole Scherzinger:

  • Nicole Scherzinger being hilarious with great comedic timing
  • The twerking and modern choreography
  • The inclusive cast, from different races to body types
  • The behind the scenes seeming “live take” / “one take wonder”
  • The entirely monochrome like the original black and white film – apart from the colour red
  • How self-aware the production was, but in a non-pretentious way
  • Great casting of Hannah Yun Chamberlain as young Norma Desmond.
View of the Sunset Boulevard Stage at the Savoy Theatre in Stalls U5, U6, U7, U8 in front of the sound and lighting booth

View of the Sunset Boulevard Stage at the Savoy Theatre in Stalls U5, U6, U7, U8 in front of the sound and lighting booth

Where is the best place to sit in the Savoy Theatre for Sunset Boulevard?

I’d say that the front stalls are worth paying for – or at least one of the front rows of the Dress Circle if you can swing it – so that your view isn’t obstructed.

We sat at the back of the stalls, seats U5 to U8. Since they used the large screens throughout the performance, our view was slightly obstructed, which meant we had to lean down or miss out on some of the actor’s expressions during the show, because there’s a lot of live camera streaming throughout.

People waiting to greet the cast of Sunset Boulevard backstage at the Savoy Theatre in London

People waiting to greet the cast of Sunset Boulevard backstage at the Savoy Theatre

Is it worth seeing Sunset Boulevard with Nicole Scherzinger in 2023?

In my opinion, catching Sunset Boulevard with Nicole Scherzinger in 2023 is totally worth it.

I truly felt I saw another side of Scherzinger tonight – one that was wise, mature, youthful, had wild abandonment, and at once learned into her star power and melted seamlessly into the background allowing other stars around her to shine.

She belongs on the stage.

I had an absolute blast, my parents loved it too.

You know what drew us in? Not just Scherzinger’s amazing performance, but also the inclusive cast.

The diversity on stage was so refreshing, and it made the whole production feel relatable, especially for younger audiences.

The contemporary touch added a real fresh vibe to the classic – and the choreography was sharp, modern, and executed to perfection.

The ending was intense and left us all emotionally shattered. I mean, to think that the cast goes through this powerful performance twice a day? Pretty inspiring.

So, no doubt about it – if you love theatre, and you’ve been hungry for something different and fresh, then you should go and see Sunset Boulevard with Nicole Scherzinger. It’s worth it.

Also make sure you book tickets for a performance where it’s Nicole Scherzinger performing, and not the alternate Norma Desmond, to avoid disappointment.

Historical green plaque at the Savoy Theatre - 'the first public building in the world to be lit throughout by electricity'. Wow!

Historical green plaque at the Savoy Theatre – ‘the first public building in the world to be lit throughout by electricity’. Wow! Talk about historical.

History of the Savoy Theatre in London

The Savoy Theatre has been an iconic gem in London’s West End since opening its doors in 1881.

It’s known for being the world’s first public building to be completely lit by electricity. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Nestled on the Strand, near Covent Garden, it’s an easy stroll from some of London’s most famous landmarks, and of course, sits right next to the iconic Savoy Hotel.

The Savoy Theatre became an instant sensation after a series of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, known as the Savoy Operas, which played at the theatre in the late 19th century.

Over the decades, the Savoy has hosted a plethora of award-winning productions, including Legally Blonde and Pretty Woman.

Now, it’s hosting the revival of Sunset Boulevard, starring the talented Nicole Scherzinger.

Rainy streets of London outside the Savoy Hotel and Savoy Theatre on the Strand, with neon lights reflecting on the pavement

Rainy streets of London outside the Savoy Hotel and Savoy Theatre on the Strand, with neon lights reflecting on the pavement. Big mood.

Famous Guests at the Savoy Hotel

The Savoy Hotel, right next to the Savoy Theatre, has always been a popular spot for celebrities, artists, and even royals.

Sir Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister, used to stay here often and loved having his political meetings and family celebrations at the Savoy.

Let’s not forget Hollywood legends like Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra who have all stayed in its fancy rooms.

Murder mystery author Agatha Christie was so inspired by the Savoy that she even set one of her novels, “At Bertram’s Hotel,” here.

In the music world, The Beatles were guests during the peak of their fame, and the iconic Bob Dylan was famously photographed here for his “Subterranean Homesick Blues” music video.

The Savoy still maintains its luxurious and elegant vibe, attracting a whole new generation of stars. That’s why the Savoy Theatre is considered one of the best theatres in London – it’s got that fame and prestige that draws in top talent, even today.

Have you seen Sunset Boulevard yet? Share your thoughts with me!

And if you’re exploring more of London, check out my related posts:

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.