Baz Bamigboye for the Daily Mail
Into the Sunset: Close in Costume. She is getting ready for her close-up, when she plays Norma Desmond at the London Coliseum, but backstage folk are nervous about how much dressing room space she’ll want
Glenn Close is getting ready for her close-up, when she plays Norma Desmond at the London Coliseum, but already backstage folk are getting nervous about how much dressing room space she’ll want to occupy.
I’ve heard tales that two, even three rooms will be knocked into one enormous suite. Or that she will use one as a private dressing-room, a second for hair and make-up and a third to receive guests.
One West End wag talked about a room just for the original, hand-beaded, Anthony Powell-designed costumes that Ms Close may wear on stage when she plays Desmond in the musical version of Sunset Boulevard, which opens at the English National Opera’s home at the Coliseum on April 1, 2016.
This page was first to report, back in July, that Ms Close would be starring in the show, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black, in the West End.
Michael Linnit, who is producing with partner Michael Grade, laughed when I approached him on the subject and insisted there was no diva-ish behaviour at all.
‘Glenn is filming in Europe. She will be in London, and she will be taken around the theatre, where she will look around and have a choice of dressing rooms,’ he said.
Linnit continued: ‘She’s the star of the show and, along with Andrew, the reason we’ve been selling tickets.’
He said that as an international star, Ms Close was entitled to the Number One dressing room.
‘She will be given the run of the place — and why shouldn’t she?’ he added. ‘I did say dressing rooms plural to you, but she may well settle for one. She’s enchanting, and lovely to deal with.
‘She was doing a play on Broadway recently and had a room the size of a telephone booth, but that’s because she was in a play and didn’t require all the mechanics needed for a musical like Sunset. It’s bigger and broader than a straight play, and she has more costume changes, and more dealings with hair and make-up.’
One close friend of hers in London insisted there was no off-stage drama as far as Close is concerned. ‘Glenn will need plenty of space, but it’s the requirement of the role. I mean, she’s not going to get changed in the wings with the whole chorus watching, is she?’
Glenn Close poses with the award she won for best actress in a mini-series or television movie for her work on ‘The Lion in Winter,’ with presenter Al Pacino at the 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards
SHOW THAT WAS NEVER CLOSED (OR CLOTHED) BACK IN BUSINESS
A show that recounts how a famous theatre survived through the war years by staging ‘tasteful’ nude revues is heading into the West End.
Mrs Henderson Presents is a musical that tells how a supposedly shy and retiring 70-year-old widow put on shows featuring ‘beautiful bosoms and bottoms’ at the Windmill Theatre before and during World War II.
The production’s based on the real-life tale of Laura Henderson and Vivian Van Damm, her general manager, who saved the struggling Windmill by slashing the costume budget to next to zero; undressing showgirls and posing them in a series of tableaux.
Mrs Henderson Presents is a musical that tells how a supposedly shy and retiring 70-year-old widow put on shows featuring ‘beautiful bosoms and bottoms’ at the Windmill Theatre before and during World War II
Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins starred in a big-screen version of the story ten years ago. The musical adaptation opened at the Theatre Royal Bath during the summer, with Olivier award-winning Tracie Bennett and Ian Bartholomew playing Mrs Henderson and Van Damm. Emma Williams stars as Maureen, a shy young woman who blossoms thanks to Mrs H’s encouragement.
The show begins previews at the Noel Coward Theatre on February 9, with the official opening night on February 16.
Michael Harrison, part of the producing team, told me why they’d gone for the Noel Coward. ‘We didn’t want a big barn of a place,’ he said. And although Mrs H has scenes with high-kicking chorus lines and big, set-piece production numbers it also has intimate moments; particularly those set during the war years.
The Windmill show, known as Revudeville, ran at a time when the Lord Chamberlain exercised censorship. Mrs Henderson side-stepped indecency laws by presenting her ‘girls’ as still life, works of art. If they had to move, feather boas and fans artfully hid any part of their anatomy deemed to be offensive — all while the Blitz raged.
Their famous boast was: ‘We never closed.’