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re: Why didn't Glenn Close get cast as Norma first?
Last Edit: JFly 03:05 am EDT 05/22/21
Posted by: JFly 03:04 am EDT 05/22/21
In reply to: Why didn't Glenn Close get cast as Norma first? - bobby2 01:25 am EDT 05/22/21

I think in retrospect the question makes a lot of sense. But I'd say that "on paper" LuPone seemed like a much better choice than Close.

Patti's performance as Eva was not only legendary, but it proved that she could handle the sort of vocal heavy lifting that's expected from an ALW score. Close's previous musical work was mainly Barnum, unless I'm forgetting something? She was great (as far as I can tell on the cast recording) but Charity Barnum doesn't have any big pop arias that would lead you to think of her for Norma Desmond. So who knew if Close would be able to pull it off eight shows a week?

I didn't see either of them play the role, so I can't comment on their actual performances. But when Patti was announced it seemed, acting wise, like something that was easily within her wheelhouse. Opinions vary on the results (of course), but the general consensus seems to be that Patti ended up not living up to what people imagined might have been. Whether that would have been different with another director, different script, etc, who knows? But it's still a little puzzling that she wasn't more successful with the role.

Also, I imagine Glenn, being a legit movie star, would be paid significantly more than Patti. (Which is not to say Patti's not a star in her own right...)

I'm more curious as to why they didn't go with Elaine Paige instead of Patti.

I'll answer my own question and say I don't think Elaine had performed on Broadway yet, having not been allowed to reprise her Eva in New York. (Did they try to get her to reprise Grizabella?) The powers that be were most likely hoping that whoever was their West End Norma would give such a buzzed about performance that the show would be a "must see" event when it came to New York. Why take the risk that Elaine wouldn't be able to come over again, especially when there wouldn't be any such issues with Patti?
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