Opera AACC Prepares For Hauntingly Beautiful Take On “Sunset Boulevard”

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This October, Opera Anne Arundel Community College and the Moonlight Troupers will present “Sunset Boulevard” as their fall musical.

Based on Billy Wilder’s 1950 film by the same name, the musical follows Joe Gillis (played by Trevor Greenfield), a screenwriter down on his luck. While he is evading debt collectors, he comes across Norma Desmond (played by Kristina Tardif Banks), a silent-screen star who has fallen from the public eye due to the introduction of talkies. Norma offers to help Joe, so long as he helps her with her new film script.

The musical's book and lyrics were written by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, and the music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“Sunset Boulevard” is being directed by Doug Byerly, who is also the founder of Opera AACC. Byerly chose this musical after falling in love with the show when he saw a production on Broadway in 1994. He believes that the musical is an excellent portrayal of the film, and would like to share this important story with the audience at AACC. Byerly’s vision for the musical is “to allow the music and dialogue to guide us on the journey; to tell the story as simply as possible.”

By allowing the story to tell itself, the show does not need to rely on creating an elaborate production. Instead, the show can focus on the talented crew members and actors who have spent many hours working it.

Though the production does not have the budget to create any large sets, intricate costumes, or props, the show still provides a full experience for the audience. Instead of relying on money to create Byerly’s vision, the production crew had to think outside the box.

“We have to be creative and imaginative, therefore, in how we tell this story,” Byerly said.

The production crew was able to create a full visual effect for the audience. “I hope the audience is left with the hauntingly beautiful music in their ear, and the amazing performance in their mind,” Byerly said.

Many people have worked tirelessly on this musical since the beginning of the production. The music direction and conduction are done by Blair Skinner. Choreography is done by Andrew Gordon, who will also sing and dance the role of Sammy. Costumes come courtesy of Lisa Dickinson and the House of Bankerd, and the design is by Peter Kaiser, Jerry Vess and Adam Byerly. The cast also includes Katie Schedit as Betty Schaefer, Byerly as Max von Mayerling, Vess as Cecil B DeMille, Peter Crews as Shelldrake/Manfred, and Bob Walton as Artie Green.

“Sunset Boulevard” will be performed in the Robert E. Kauffman Theater in the Pascal Center for Performing Arts. The performance days are October 4, 11 and 12 at 7:30pm and October 6 and 13 at 2:00pm. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for attendees over 60, military, students and AACC faculty/staff. To inquire about tickets, call the AACC box office at 410-777-2457 or email boxoffice@aacc.edu.

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