ABOUT THE PROJECT
The strange but true story of Gloria Swanson's attempt to produce a musical version of SUNSET BLVD.
SYNOPSIS / DESCRIPTION
For Gloria Swanson, the iconic star of Sunset Boulevard, both the movie and the character of Norma Desmond provided a renewed spotlight. Seeing in Norma a portal back to the stardom she once commanded as a silent screen superstar, Swanson began to envision a musical stage adaptation of the film. Enter, Dickson Hughes and Richard Stapley, two struggling songwriters (and also a romantic couple) looking for their big break. Playing Joe Gillis to Gloria’s Norma Desmond, they threw caution to the wind and joined forces to bring the musical to life, beginning a journey that would alter the course of their lives. Years before Andrew Lloyd Webber would bring his own adaptation of Sunset Boulevard to Broadway, Stapley and Hughes completed their own musical vision of Norma’s story. But after several failed attempts to bring the musical to fruition, the three entertainers eventually declared the project a wash and parted ways. Also complicating matters was the fact that Gloria set her sights on handsome Richard Stapley, resulting in a classic love triangle.
With Swanson riding off into the sunset as only a Hollywood icon can, Hughes continued to compose, while Stapley, ever chasing his star, set off to Europe to act in spaghetti westerns. For Stapley and Hughes, the chapter on the Sunset Boulevard musical could have officially been closed forever. Except, just like Norma Desmond, the show hadn’t taken its final bow quite yet. Years later, Hughes revitalized the music into a cabaret act, titled Swanson on Sunset. The show not only incorporated the music from the Sunset Boulevard musical, but also went further…telling the harrowing story of the failed production itself. An autobiographical ode to a musical moment in his life, Hughes was able to bring a sweet coda to his work all those years prior. The project’s mild success caught the attention of Richard Stapley, who, motivated by the news, planned a sudden and dramatic return to Hughes’ life.
A tale of relentless passion and unspoken desperation, the story of Swanson’s Sunset Boulevard musical has remained an untold tale of Hollywood Babylon…until now. In Swanson on Sunset, audiences will trace the journey of the three key players of the ill-fated Sunset Boulevard musical, and see how the show became a definitive chapter of their respective lives. Swanson on Sunset finally brings the story of Norma Desmond’s musical swansong to all the people out there in the dark.
GENRE Documentary Feature
DIRECTOR Jeffrey Schwarz
PRODUCER Jeffrey Schwarz
Please help support this project with a tax deductible contribution.