WRITER'S CUT / Steps to movie heaven: Christopher Hampton on transferring Sunset Boulevard from the screen to the stage
Friday 16 July 1993
Originally, that moment of the arrival at the house wasn't staged in the musical, but I always thought that there should be a kind of breathing space, like going through the gate to the secret garden, before the story began. So I tried to find a theatrical equivalent to that shot, and to work out the constituents that work so well. In the film the outside staircase in the garden has a sort of affinity with the staircase that Norma Desmond comes down at the end, which we finally figured out in musical terms - we're using a piece of music there with a lyric that's a kind of mirror-image or an inversion of the lyric at the end.
We're not really going for pseudo-filmic devices; in fact we've rather avoided it. For example, in the scene where they're watching the silent movies, I wanted very much not to have a silent movie. So they sit on a sofa looking towards the audience and the movie is projected out in front of them; it's evoked with music. Really because the story is so character-based we use theatrical devices rather than cinematic ones.
Christopher Hampton wrote the book for the musical 'Sunset Boulevard'
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