I think especially for people not familiar with silent film and silent film super stars.... which I imagine is the majority of audiences, period, not just the 30-80 women and gays I think are the prime audience for this movie... why would it be so hard to imagine that this *fictional* silent film star was that in her 30s or even 40s. If she was an amazing looking woman with that "it" factor, and one of the *first* people to be exposed to audiences this way... that is an enormous enormous impact to have. She wouldn't have been competing with many other women, so whether she was 23 or 38, she would have captivated the world.
I know it's not ideal to the reality of who Norma might be based on, but I don't think it's so crazy to believe either.
I also would like to see the movie made with someone who can sing the role to the heights it should be sung. But Glenn has owned this role for decades so there's nothing to be done about that... and getting her performance is one of the key reasons to make it. But I'm just still shocked ALW didn't have the original production filmed, like he's done with so many of his shows, or have the revival filmed at least.