Sunset Boulevard Synopsis and Characters

Sunset Boulevard Synopsis and Characters

So, whats the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic all about? Read on to find out...

Joe Gillis hasn't had much success as a screen writer. His car runs out of petrol on Sunset Boulevard, outside the mansion owned by former silent film star, Norma Desmond.

Repossession agents are in hot pursuit of him and his car. He hides the car in the garage and asks if he can phone his friends. But Miss Desmond has another, better, idea. She wants to make a screen comeback. He's a writer, perhaps he can edit her self-penned script, Salome, ready for presentation to Cecil B. de Mille. He can live at the mansion too, all expenses paid. That seems fine. But there's a complication. When he goes back to the studio in an attempt to borrow money, he meets young Betty Schaefer, who subsequently cooperates on another script with him - one of his own. And Norma is jealous.

Back at the mansion, Joe realises that Norma has fallen in love with him. She lavishes expensive gifts on him and attempts suicide when he goes out to a party. Joe finishes the script and Norma prepares to sally forth to present it to de Mille. A phone call from the studio invites her to visit, but all they want is the use of her car for a film. Max, her major-domo (and ex-husband), conceals this from her. Norma goes to the studio and de Mille greets her, but is non-committal on her script. Norma discovers Joe is having a relationship with Betty, and phones her. Joe, snatching the receiver from Norma, invites her over to see how he's living. When Betty arrives, Joe announces he's leaving with her. Norma is beside herself with rage and grief. She shoots Joe dead. Now totally beyond the bounds of reality, she mistakes the arriving police who have come to arrest her for studio executives. She's ready for her close up, Mr de Mille.



Cast of Characters:

Norma Desmond - a star of the silent screen - Female, Playing age 50-65

A beautiful but eccentric faded star of the silent screen era. Once the biggest name in Hollywood, she is a recluse in her decaying mansion. A woman of great pride and passion with hopes of a comeback. Must be able to negotiate difficult rhythms and melodies and have huge vocal stamina as the show is almost sung-through.


Joe Gillis - a young screenwriter - Male, Playing age 35-49

A handsome but just past his prime screenwriter whose career is in decline. His playboy looks and manners used to open every door but things have changed. He moves in with Norma Desmond all the while falling in love with young Betty Schaefer; an absolute charmer with a dark side.

Max von Mayerling - Norma's Major-Domo - Male, Playing age 55-75

Norma’s devoted butler, protects her from the outside world, a dark and ominous presence in the mansion, he was Norma’s director and first husband, dramatic.


Betty Schaefer - a secretary at Paramount - Female, 20-30

A beautiful young aspiring writer with spunk, teams up with Joe team up on a script and they fall in love, ultimately Joe breaks her heart.


Cecil B. DeMille - Film Director Male, 60-69

The iconic Hollywood film director who discovered Norma Desmond and made her a star, historic figure.


Artie Green -  Male, 25-35

Betty’s fiance, a self-described “Jewish Casanova,” a good-hearted guy.


First Harem Girl, Beautician, Young Writer, Salesman, DeMille's Assistant, Heather, Second Masseuse, Cliff, Salesman, Young Guard, Third Harem Girl (Jean), Beautician, Hedy Lamarr, Morino, Salesman, Hog Eye, Lisa, Doctor, First Financeman, Film Actor, Salesman, Katherine, Psychiatrist, Second Harem Girl, Beautician, Mary, First Masseuse, Sheldrake, Police Chief, John, Salesman, Victor Mature, Myron, Manfred, Second Financeman, Salesman, Party Guest, Jonesy, Sammy, Salesman, Choreographer, Salesman, Joanna, Astrologer