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Sunset Boulevard

Premiere October 16, 2010

Musical. Master of Musicals Andrew Lloyd Webber visits The Göteborg Opera. In Sunset Boulevard we will hear our great Swedish musical star Gunilla Backman sing the principal role.

Watch a movie from the perfromance.

When the film Sunset Boulevard was to be filmed in 1950 Greta Garbo was first offered the lead role as Norma Desmond. When the musical with the same name premiered in the US in 1994 Norma was performed by Glenn Close. In The Göteborg Opera production Gunilla Backman, famous for Mamma Mia amongst other musicals, sings the role of faded silent film star.

Norma Desmond lives in a luxury house on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles with her butler. In the heydays of silent film she was one of the most celebrated actresses in Hollywood, but the transition to sound motion pictures caused her fall from grace. Insistent on making her comeback she writes her own screenplay. When the young, unemployed author Joe Gillis by chance turns up at her door she persuades him to help her. This becomes the start of a story of romance and tragedy. Norma falls in love with Joe, at the same time as he falls in love with the young Betty. The drama escalates in the elegant Hollywood settings and the border between dream and reality gets ever more blurry for the increasingly desperate Norma.

Watch pictures from the perfromance.

Sunset Boulevard, Behind the scenes.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical first premiered in London in 1993. It was an immediate success and was performed 1529 times. The musical has a thriller-like story and fantastic melodies. One of the most famous songs is Norma Desmond’s As if we never said goodbye.

It is a great pleasure for us to be able to introduce Gunilla Backman in the female leading role while at the same time being able to present a young shooting star, Jonas Eskilsson, in the male leading role. As Max, Norma’s butler, we see Fred Johanson, who last played the Beast in our production of the Beauty and the Beast. Director Vernon Mound and choreographer Anthoula Papadakis were responsible for the success of The Göteborg Opera production of Miss Saigon in 2004/2005.

Costume sketches by Emma Ryott.

Kostymskiss Sunset Boulevard av Emma Ryott.
Kostymskiss Sunset Boulevard av Emma Ryott.
Kostymskiss Sunset Boulevard av Emma Ryott.
Kostymskiss Sunset Boulevard av Emma Ryott.
Gunilla Backman
Gunilla Backman Foto: Mats Bäcker
Fred Johanson
Fred Johanson Foto:Mats Bäcker

Gunilla Backman

(Norma Desmond)

Gunilla Backman got her big Swedish break-through in the role as Donna in the musical Mamma Mia! at Cirkus in Stockholm. She received a Golden Mask (Guldmask) for best female principal role for her performance as Donna in 2006. The production was also performed at Scandinavium during the spring of 2007.

Gunilla Backman has been educated in classical dance at Kungliga Operans Balettelevskola (The Royal Swedish Ballet School) in Stockholm and has studied singing since the age of 17. Previous principal roles include Les Misérables and Miss Saigon in London; Sunset Boulevard in Germany; Chess in Denmark; and the title role at the original premiere of Garbo The Musical at Oscarsteatern (The Oscar Theatre) in Stockholm.

Gunilla has also participated in concerts and theatre productions, and has also sung on records and dubbed films. She is also a familiar face on television, having participated in (for example) Allsång på Skansen (Sing Along at Skansen), Så ska det låta (The Lyrics Board), Sing-a-long and Doobidoo. She has also released the solo album Nära mig (Close to Me) and participated in The Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber at Oscarsteatern (The Oscar Theatre), been a guest performer in Rhapsody in Rock and performed in concerts with Kungliga Filharmonikerna (The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra) and Broadway concerts at Berwaldhallen with Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester (The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra).

During the spring of 2009 she participated in the show PrimaDONNOR at Hamburger Börs in Stockholm with her fellow Mamma Mia! performers Sussie Eriksson and Charlotte Strandberg, among other performances. Gunilla Backman also performed as the guest soloist of the Epiphany Concert at The Göteborg Opera in 2008.

Fred Johanson

(Max von Mayerling)

Fred Johanson is a versatile and varied artist. In addition to performing principal musical theatre roles he has also composed music and worked in both TV and film productions. His most recent performance was as Old Deuteronomy in Cats at Cirkus in Stockholm, and prior to that as Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Malmö Opera and Reverend Shaw Moore in Footloose at Intiman in Stockholm. Other performances include the Beast in Beauty and the Beast at both the Göteborg Opera and Göta Lejon, Louis B Mayer in Garbo at the Oscar Theatre, Javert in Les Misérables on tour in Denmark, Frollo in Notre Dame de Paris in London's West End, and Fame at the China theatre. Fred was also part of the original London cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.

As a soloist he has performed at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Concert Hall, the Berwaldhallen Concert Hall and Konserthuset (the Stockholm Concert Hall). Fred Johanson has also released two solo albums, in large part written by him. He reached number 1 on the Australian hit chart with the group Scandal’us, a record which sold double platinum. He has also been a backing vocalist for Tom Jones, Chris Rea, Pink Floyd, Sam Brown and Bob Geldof. His film and TV performances include appearances on Så ska det låta (the Lyrics Board), playing a gangster in the film Rånarna (At Point Blank), and Pontius Pilate in a film version of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Jonas Eskilsson
Jonas Eskilsson Foto:Mats Bäcker
Martyna Lisowska
Martyna Lisowska Foto:Mats Bäcker

Jonas Eskilsson

(Joe Gillis)

Jonas Eskilsson makes his debut at The Göteborg Opera in the role of Joe Gillis, which is also his first major leading role. He graduated from the Academy of Music and Drama at the University of Gothenburg in 2009. During his last year at the academy he performed as Magaldi in Evita at Åbo Svenska Teater (The Swedish Theatre of Turku) and as Hanschen in Spring Awakening at the Malmö Opera. During the autumn of 2009 he performed the leading role of Peter in the one act musical Kontaktannonsen (Connect/Disconnect) at Regionteatern Blekinge Kronoberg in Växjö.

Martyna Lisowska

(Betty Schaefer)

Martyna Lisowska graduated from the Stockholm Ballet Academy. In addition to TV productions such as Solstollarna and Toffelhjältarna, she has also performed in A Chorus Line on tour with Riksteatern, West Side Story at the Oscar Theatre, Chicago at Eriksbergshallen and the Oscar Theatre, Grease on tour in Sweden and Finland, Chess at Cirkus in Stockholm, Kharmen at Göteborgs Stadsteater (the Göteborg City Theatre) and ”the blog opera” Sjökor och stekare (Manatees and Roasters) at NorrlandsOperan, among others. At the Östgötateatern, she has performed the role of Tzeitel in The Fiddler on the Roof and the principal role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Her most recent performance is as Anita in West Side Story at NorrlandsOperan.

At the Göteborg Opera, Martyna Lisowska has performed in musicals Evita and A Chorus Line.

Set design models

See Sunset Boulevard start on the quiet at Liseberg.


  • Genre: Musical
  • Season: 2010/2011
  • First show: 22 Oct 2010
  • Last show: 15 Apr 2011
  • Location:

    Main Stage

  • Length: aprox. 3 hours incl. pause


A performance by Vernon Mound
Direction   Anthoula Papadakis och Shaun Kerrison
Conductors   David White,Julian Bigg och Finn Rosengren
Set design   Paul Edwards
Costume design   Emma Ryott
Choreography   Anthoula Papadakis
Light design   Bruno Poet
Sound design   Gary Dixon
Video design   Finn Ross
Swedish translation   Erik Fägerborn

Role list

Norma Desmond   Gunilla Backman
Joe Gillis   Jonas Eskilsson
Max von Mayerling   Fred Johanson
Betty Schaefer   Martyna Lisowska
Cecil B. DeMille   Lars Hjertner
Artie Green   Tobias Ahlsell
Sheldrake   David Lundqvist
Manfred   Michael Jansson
Anna Afzelius, Rebecka Andréasson, Malin Brandeby, Karin Bååthe, Emelie Dybeck, Emma Hellström, Karin Mårtensson, Therese Lindh-Bjellder, Petronella Löfstrand, Michelle Lönne, Katarina Stella, Michael Lönne, Katarina Stella, Michaela Sjöstedt, Kattis Trollregn, Thomas Bay Pedersen, Staffan Berg, Rickard Björk, Fredrik Frid Giertz, Pierre Hagman, Joacim Hedman, Erik Höiby, David Inghamn, Stefan Johansson, Mikael Lundin, Carl-Johan de Neergaard, Robert Sillberg, Maxim Telleng, Björn Thudén, Fabian och Matti.
The Göteborg Opera Orchestra


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