Glenn Close cancels third Sunset

Glenn Close cancels third Sunset


norman lebrecht

April 25, 2016

The Hollywood star is still* unwell, ENO have announced.

Ria Jones will sing the lead role in Sunset Boulevard, amid rising demands for refunds from disappointed ticketholders.

ria jones

See comments here.

*One readers has pointed out it’s the fifth show she has missed; there should have been two on Saturday.


  • Gary Overton says:


    Sunset Boulevard – London Coliseum

    Having paid over the odds to see Glenn Close in sunset boulevard at the London Coliseum we were utterly disappointed when we turned up and told Ms Close would not be performing and that no refunds or exchanges would be given and TUFF, but write in and see what the organisation who put show on says, we then we read the following
    Sunset Boulevard understudy wins over booing crowd after Glenn Close falls ill
    It is the stuff of an understudy’s nightmares: waiting in the wings as a baying audience demands their money back because the show’s Hollywood star cannot perform.
    But Ria Jones was left triumphant as she stepped in to Glenn Close’s Sunset Boulevard shoes, after waiting 25 years to play the role in the spotlight.

    Jones, a Welsh singer, faced furious boos and walk-outs after it was announced Close was unwell, with audience members paying up to £150 to see the American actress left disappointed.

    By the end of the night, she received what one audience member described as one of the longest standing ovations she had ever seen on the London stages.
    Remarkably, Jones was among the young stars who helped Lord Lloyd Webber develop Sunset Boulevard at a workshop for the Sydmonton Festival in 1991. Despite taking starring turns in numerous other musicals, this was the first time she has taken the role of Norma in a production of her own.
    Speaking after the performance, Jones, 49, said she had been “gob-smacked” by the reception, revealing she had never sung with the 51-piece orchestra before.
    Close, who has received rave reviews for her role as Norma Desmond inSunset Boulevard, was taken ill on Thursday, and was unable to perform on doctor’s orders.
    When ticket-holders arrived at the London Coliseum, they were greeted by notices in the foyer telling them the news, with many descending on the box office to demand a refund and replacement tickets.
    When a member of staff took to the stage to announce Jones, Close’s official alternate, would be performing the role instead, he was met with furious boos and catcalls, with members of a packed house shouting: “Give us our money back”.

    What lies. We booed because it was awful. Jones’ staccato vibrato dislodged fillings. The applause came because it was easy to appreciate the difficulties that the cast endured after Close had a touch of the vapours. No refunds were offered by Coliseum staff, bucks were passed to the ENO which is about as likely to refund our spoiled nights expenditure as it is to brew Earl Grey in a chocolate teapot! The lies, the lies, that some hacks will publish – unbelievable!

    We wrote to the English National Opera with the following and received this curt reply

    Our letter to the ENO

    Having asked for a refund for the tickets bought to see Glenn Close’s performance, I was told to contact you directly as refunds could not be given at the box office. The tickets were highly priced for a reason – offering the audience an opportunity to see a legend playing a legend. Refunds should have been offered without question. I feel very very cheated as I was one of the many who had to leave at the interval because Ms Jones’ performance was unintelligibly shrill – listening to it was an awful experience. If this is how ENO treats its ticket buyers, I’m disgusted. As was the view that many others that attended this performance.

    Also disappointed by the attitude of the London Coliseum Theatre staff who point blank refused to discuss any type of compensation or refund with the very many patrons who had purposefully come to see Ms Close not an understudy.

    Awaiting a refund still. For a spoilt and expensive evening! Its not just the ticket costs incurred for incidents like this. Some of us had to pay top whack rates for hotels and transport just to attend Ms. Closes’ performance!

    I have attached copies of the tickets and receipts for tickets

    This is the utterly cruddy response you get from representatives of the English National Opera when you request a refund after they fail to deliver quality “goods”, but still charge top dollar for performances fronted by “extras” who are so bad they trigger mass exits of theatre goers at the interval.

    The ENO Reply

    “Dear Theatregoer,

    We are writing about your visit to “Sunset Boulevard” recently, at which performance Glenn Close was unable to perform due to illness.

    We understand that there was some disappointment – shared by us as well, but we are delighted that our decision to cast and fully rehearse Ria Jones as Understudy Norma Desmond has been so well received by audience and press alike, and caused so much interest. Ria in fact created the role when Sunset Boulevard was first workshopped by Andrew Lloyd Webber in the early 1990’s, but was at that time too young to perform the role for an audience.

    You can imagine how thrilled we all are that we have had in this short run two of the most significant Normas in the history of this musical able to revisit the role to such an amazing response from their audiences.

    There have been some requests for exchange tickets for another performance when Glenn Close will be performing, but with, as we write this, only fourteen performances left we do not have sufficient seats to exchange.

    It remains for us to suggest for those who have sought a refund that the production that they saw was fully of the standard that we had planned, a magnificent production by Lonny Price fully endorsed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    This of course would be different if were presenting a long season or a run when there could be obvious opportunities for exchanges

    We look forward to welcoming you to our future productions at the London Coliseum.
    Yours faithfully

    Lord Grade and Michael Linnit”

    We agreed that it was in the terms and conditions but some leeway could have been made and this is why the West End is failing as it has little or no respect for the paying customers that line the very deep pockets of the likes of Lord Grade, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the like

    • Carol Gibbons says:

      I agree 100% – I left Sunset Boulevard partway through as understudy’s performance was so poor. I was refused a refund or an exchange on the grounds that there weren’t enough unsold tickets available – a few days later I passed the Coliseum on the way to meet a friend and saw a billboard saying that tickets available from the Box Office. Shoddy behaviour given that the posters advertised Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard but that’s not what was delivered. Apparently once they have your money, they’re not bothered about anything else

  • Hattie Ison says:

    I booked tickets more than six months ago and I flew from The United States to see Miss Close perform so obviously it was worth hundreds of dollars to me.
    If she had not appeared, for whatever’s reason, I would have been gutted and livid at the same time.
    I was lucky she showed the night we went, but I am certain I would have taken legal action against those mentioned, particularly if Ms Jones was that bad!