Adelphi Theatre, London

Final Performance - Adelphi Theatre, London
April 5, 1997
The Final Curtain on London's Sunset

April 7, 1997
Following it's closure on Broadway two weeks ago, the London production of Sunset Boulevard played its final show Saturday to a sell out audience at the Adelphi Theatre, having played a total of 1,528 performances since its opening in July 1993.

Fans of the show, of Petula Clark (playing Norma Desmond) and fans of both filled a large majority of the audience along with many invited guests including many previous cast members. The writers Don Black and Christopher Hampton, director Trevor Nunn and the show's first Norma, Patti Lupone, were also there, although Andrew Lloyd Webber himself did not attend.

The cast gave a stunning performance and, as with the last night on Broadway, the audience went wild, applauding almost every scene throughout the show. As the show neared the end and Norma spoke her final words for the last time, "And now Mr De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up", the reality of "the end" finally set in and the audience rose to their feet for what seemed like the longest standing ovation ever.

Petula Clark appeared onstage to take her bow and bouquets of flowers were thrown from all over the theatre. An emotional Petula wiped tears from her eyes as she stepped forward to make a speech. After an eternity of applause died down, she began by saying that the evening had all been a bit "dream like" for everyone concerned, then apologised if it bored anyone but she wanted to thank many people as it wasn't just the cast that made the show but a whole team of people, from those under the stage working the hydraulics to the sound crew, to the lighting people... Someone from the audience shouted "Sing something else Petula", which encouraged others to clap and cheer for more with numerous suggestions of "Downtown". Petula declined however, and joked that it wasn't really appropriate and that "Lord Lloyd-Webber would not like it!"

Determined to thank as many people as possible, she continued, inviting her dresser Michelle and her wig mistress Sue on stage to take a bow, and also the resident director, Richard Tate (also a former member of the cast). Trevor Nunn, Don Black and Christopher Hampton came onstage and in his speech, Trevor Nunn summed up the evening by commenting that "all good things must come to an end." Jokes were made about the number of people Petula had thanked, with someone pointing out that she'd forgotten to mention the flymen! With final words from Trevor Nunn thanking "All you wonderful people out there in the dark", the orchestra struck up and the curtain was lowered very slowly for the last time.

An after show party was thrown at the theatre for invited guests with many staying until the early hours of the morning. Dedicated fans had a long wait to see Petula Clark and to get their final autographs and photos. The huge number of bouquets and flower displays were piled into the car and Petula drove off into the sunset (well, not quite!). As guests left the party the sadness of the occassion finally seemed to sink in, after what had been a night that no-one will forget.

By Andrea Tushingham
For Lloyd Webber.Net