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Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard
Peoria Players Theatre
February 2-3, 8-10 at 7:30pm

Peoria Players begins the second half of its 99th season with the regional premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Sunset Boulevard, directed by Steve Bortolotti.  Based on Billy Wilder's Academy Award-winning 1950 film of the same name, the plot revolves around Norma Desmond, a faded star of the silent screen era, living in the past in her decaying mansion on the fabled Los Angeles street. When young screenwriter Joe Gillis accidentally crosses her path, she sees in him an opportunity to make her comeback to the big screen. Romance and tragedy follow.  The original Broadway production opened in 1993, and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, winning 8, including Best Musical.


The Peoria Players’ production, a premiere for Central Illinois, has a cast of 30, and features Cheri Beever as Norma Desmond. Cheri is a familiar face – and voice – in the local theater circuit.  She starred as Players’ original Eva Peron in our 1993 production of Evita, and has played Patsy Cline in all three of PPT’s Always, Patsy Cline productions, Grizabella in Cats, and Mattie Fae in August: Osage County. At Cornstock Theater, she appeared in two separate productions of Once Upon a Mattress (both as Winifred and as Queen Aggravain), Joanne in Company, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, and as Abigail Adams in 1776.  


Jake Van Hoorn plays Joe Gillis, the struggling screenwriter who catches the attention of Norma. Desmond.  Jake last appeared on the PPT stage as Big Davey in Billy Elliot, but he also appeared as Einstein in Cabaret and in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  Interestingly enough, Jake’s favorite movie is the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard.


Vicky Snyder is Joe’s love interest Betty Shaffer. Although she is no newcomer to theater, Vicky made her Peoria Players debut this past September as Esmerelda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Her theater résumé includes Eponine in Les Misérables at Eastlight Theatre, Christine Colgate in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Community Players Theatre, and Anita in West Side Story at Renegade Theatre Company in Duluth, Minnesota.


Peoria theater veteran Mike Reams appears as Max, Norma’s butler/chauffeur/major domo.  He last appeared on PPT’s stage in the role of the Father in Billy Elliot.  For Players, Mike also played Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, Louie in Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, Juan Peron in Evita, the Engineer in Miss Saigon, Mr. Applegate in Damn Yankees, and Rick in The Nerd.  For Eastlight Theater, Mike played Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Max Bialystock in The Producers.  Mike has also directed A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine and The Drowsy Chaperone for Players, as well as Sugar for Cornstock Theater and The Great American Trailer Park Musical for Eastlight Theater.


Director Steve Bortolotti has a long theater résumé that includes both on stage and back stage credits.  Steve has appeared locally as Che in Evita in both the Players and Cornstock productions. Steve also played Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas for both PPT and Cornstock.  For Players, he appeared as Growltiger in Cats, Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate, King Arthur in Camelot, Samovar in A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Thenardier in Les Misérables, Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone, and Steve in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!  At Cornstock, Steve played the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, The Red Shadow/Pierre in Desert Song, the Duke in Big River, Czolgosz in Assassins, and John Adams in 1776.  For Peoria Players, Steve directed Amadeus, Ragtime, Titanic, Little Women, The Women, and Miss Saigon.  For Cornstock, Steve directed Annie, Damn Yankees, and Oklahoma!  Steve also originated Peoria Players’ Summer Youth Theater, and directed that program’s first three summer teen musicals: Grease, Little Shop of Horrors, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.


Deb Rude is musical director, and Michelle Loeffler is choreographer. Bill Barr is stage manager and Steve Hausler is production assistant, while Wayne Carey is in charge of lighting.  Carole Rogers and Kieth Wagner-Stratton are make-up and hair stylists. And tasked with setting a 1950’s Hollywood mood are set designer Chris Paternoga and costume designer Sandy Cheeseman.

Show dates are February 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10 at
7:30 PM, and February 4 and 11 at 2:00 PM.  Tickets are $20 each, and may be ordered online on the Peoria Players Theatre website or by calling 688-4773.

Posted on January 29, 2018

Updated on February 1, 2018


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