10 Broadway Divas We’d Love to See As Norma Desmond After Glenn Close
February 15th, 2017
by Josh Ferri
Tony winner Glenn Close just extended her tour-de-force performance as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevardthrough June 25. Close first played the silent movie star in the musical’s Broadway premiere in 1994 and was subsequently replaced by Tony winner Betty Buckley and Olivier winner Elaine Paige.
Now since the Palace Theatre has no tenant announced after June, it could be feasible for the revival to continue (maybe it’s flying high after awards season momentum) with a new headliner much like the original had. Here are our 10 dream Broadway leading ladies* we’d like to see sing “With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye”. (Also keep in mind Glenn and Patti LuPone were both in their mid-40s when they first played Norma.)
1. Bernadette Peters
Bernadette won her first Tony Award for ALW’s Song and Dance and having her play Norma would be a nice tip of the hat to that. Also, it’s Bernadette as Norma Desmond. That would be a bank holiday for Broadway.
2. Alice Ripley
From Betty Schaefer to Norma Desmond, the Sunday New York Times profile practically writes itself. Also, if you’ve heard Alice sing “As If We Never Said Goodbye” you already want to see what she could do with a full production. Imagine her paired with a young Joe Gillis like Jeremy Jordan or Aaron Tveit.
3. Jan Maxwell
Just imagine the acting of Jan Maxwell as Norma Desmond. It would be one of the great Broadway replacements of the year. I would pay serious money to see what she would do with those songs.
4. Heather Headley
Speaking of, Heather Headley as Shug in The Color Purple was the replacement performance of 2016. Just imagine her at the Palace making her big, expressive Heather Headley faces and singing the entire house down.
5. Ellen Greene
When Ellen returned to NYC a few years ago to reprise her Audrey, the community came alive with rave reviews and wild ovations. I’d love to see what this larger than life personality did with a character like Norma.
6. Marin Mazzie
Marin has never done ALW on Broadway so it would be an event—that soaring voice on one of his most lush scores.
7. Tonya Pinkins
Tonya Pinkins knows how to act the hell out of a well-written role. No doubt about that. Also I imagine she’d infuse her Norma with pain and grit, and that would be something to see.
8. Sheryl Lee Ralph
I live for Ms. Ralph and I would totally believe she was a silent movie star with her killer facial expressions. She breathed new life into Wicked and I think this original Dreamgirl would slay as Norma.
9. Sherie Rene Scott
Frantic and feral, Sherie Rene Scott would be a magnetic, young Norma Desmond. It would be some homecoming to musical theatre.
10. Betty Buckley
She replaced Close once, she’s hot off the film success of Split, and we all know she can still sing the hell out of it. Her “As If We Never Said Goodbye” might be the best version out there. #BringBackBetty
*Donna Murphy, Patti LuPone, & Christine Ebersole are all busy leading musicals this spring.