RIGHT NOW WITH RUSSELL: Nicole Scherzinger will make Broadway debut in ‘Sunset Boulevard’



Wright State University alumna Nicole Scherzinger is officially bringing her close-up to Broadway.

The superbly reimagined, freshly scaled-down London revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” starring Scherzinger as silent film actress Norma Desmond will transfer this year. The show, thrillingly directed with multimedia finesse by Jamie Lloyd, opened at the Savoy Theatre on Oct. 12 and closes Jan. 6.

I saw the production Nov. 16 and was blown away because it absolutely caters to Scherzinger’s inherent strengths as a dynamic triple threat. Anyone who saw her back at Wright State in the late ’90s, especially her sizzling, sensational portrayal of Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” knows she can deliver the goods, but she hasn’t really had a chance to sing, dance and act to her fullest until now. Sure, she received an Olivier Award nomination (London’s equivalent of the Tony Award) as Grizabella in “Cats” but that was Grizabella in “Cats,” a supporting role built around a signature song. I’m talking about Norma Desmond, the kooky poster child for delusions of grandeur who becomes infatuated with her screenwriting boytoy Joe Gillis from Dayton who should have known better. And Scherzinger, as stunning as ever with deeply captivating eyes befitting a silent film star, totally immerses herself in Norma’s complexity from a dramatic, foundational standpoint (clinging to past glories unable to grasp that her career is in the toilet) and a fun, anachronistic standpoint (while celebrating New Year’s Eve late in Act 1 she goes hip-hop by doing the running man).

The juicy role also allows Scherzinger to ignite the stage as only as she can. In addition to winningly showcasing the ballroom technique that served her well on “Dancing with the Stars,” her splendid renditions of “With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye” raise the roof, the latter receiving a standing ovation at my performance which is rare in London. Both songs find her bathed in incredible beams of light as well thanks to designer Jack Knowles. She also has amazing chemistry with Tom Francis, cool, steadfast and pure eye candy as Joe.

Broadway.com reports the former Pussycat Doll will be joined by Francis as well as the equally terrific Grace Hodgett-Young as Betty Schaefer and David Thaxton as Max Von Mayerling. One of the highlights of the London production involved a camera crew following Francis at the top of Act 2 as he performed the title song inside and outside the Savoy without missing a beat. I hope that idea continues for the Broadway engagement.

Scherzinger won London’s 2023 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical Performance, which bodes well for her receiving an Olivier nomination in March. She will likely have a six-month Broadway contract as she did in London but once details are certain, including news of production dates, theatre and additional casting, I’ll keep you posted. Trust me — you’ll definitely want to book a New York trip next season if at all possible.

Right Now with Russell spotlights pop culture every Friday and as news arises. From the latest in film, music, books and TV to the buzz of awards season and other hot button topics, the goal is to fill you in on what’s new in order to satisfy your entertainment cravings. He can be reached at Russell.Florence@coxohio.com.

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