arts notebook

The decision by Andrew Lloyd Webber to close Sunset Boulevard is, at first sight, curious. I found the show, directed by Trevor Nunn, compelling and moving, with one of Sir Andrew's most dramatic scores. Okay, I'm a softie. But at least, in musical theatre terms I'm a new man. For an insider at Sir Andrew's Really Useful Group tells me that while Sunset Boulevard is a hugely expensive show to run, with the budget for Norma Desmond's handmade shoes and gowns alone running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, their own research shows that cost is not the sole reason for closure. Most tellingly, my source says, men were not attracted to the show because they did not feel comfortable with the idea of young man romantically attached to a much older woman. So there it is. Multi-million pound musical closes because of male insecurity. One imagines the stalls full of those elderly biddies portrayed by Harry Enfield and chums, watching the male lead serenade Norma and cooing "Ooh, young man, young man."

The estimable Thelma Holt was quite rightly blowing a gasket when I spoke to her this week about the refusal by American Equity - who continue to set new standards in chauvinism -

to take her production of A Doll's House. They would not accept three of the actors and gave Thelma the bizarre reason that as A Doll's House is not an English play it does not need English performers. Perhaps Thelma, who has rather good contacts in Oslo's theatreland, should take American Equity at its word and send over a troop of Norwegian actors to Broadway.

How art and life can become confused; libellously so, to judge from the information line provided by Warner's Cinemas. I rang up the line to find out the time Evita was showing, and the recorded announcement helpfully gave a synopsis of the film. "It is the epic story of the girl Madonna," the voice rather curiously began, "born the illegitimate daughter of a penniless farmer..."

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