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Sunset Boulevard

John as Joe Gillis

Adelphi Theatre, London
Minskoff Theatre, New York
12-20 February 1996
Role: Joe Gillis

In 1994 John was cast to play Joe Gillis opposite Betty Buckley as Norma Desmond in the lavish Andrew Lloyd Webber production Sunset Boulevard at the Adelphi Theatre.

Based on the Billy Wilder film of the same name and with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, Sunset Boulevard follows fading star, Norma Desmond, as she tries to recapture her earlier fame and return to the big screen.

After Betty left the show, John was asked by Elaine Paige, who took over the role of Norma and who had been his co-star in Anything Goes, to stay on as her leading man.

In 1996, while starring in the primetime US television series Central Park West for CBS. John rejoined his first Norma, Betty Buckley, to reprise his role of Joe and make his Broadway debut at the Minskoff Theatre.


"John Barrowman's arrival as the third-rate screen-writer into whom Norma sinks her blood-red talons is an unqualified success. Dissolute and weak, he is the loser Billy Wilder intended him to be when he wrote the film. And Mr Barrowman, as always, sings magnificently." ~ Bill Hagerty, Today, 5 May 1994

"[Betty Buckley] is superbly partnered by new leading man John Barrowman." ~ Maureen Paton, Daily Express, 20 April 1994

"John Barrowman as the young writer, Joe Gillis, who brings yet more sorrow and tragedy into [Norma's] empty life, shows that he is definitely here to stay as a major star of the West End stage." ~ Impression Magazine, July/August 1994

"John Barrowman's young writer Joe Gillis still steals the show..." ~ Time Out, 24-31 May 1995

"John Barrowman made a dazzling Broadway debut with his ten-performance guest appearance in the Broadway production of Sunset Boulevard ... Filling every minute of his stage time with interesting and often surprising detail, supplying previously absent edge and star power, Barrowman made most of the lines sound as if one had never heard them before. He is also a fine singer and movie-star handsome." ~ Ken Mandelbaum, Theater Week, 11 March 1996