She’s Ready for Her Close-Up: Meet Katie McManus, Star of Reston Community Players’ ‘Sunset Boulevard’

Norma Desmond, in the form of the multi-talented and versatile Katie McManus, is waiting for her close-up in Reston Community Players’ sumptuous rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, opening Feb. 27, 2015.

Katie McManus.
Katie McManus.

Inspired by Billy Wilder’s iconic 1950 film, Webber’s musical version, featuring book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, focuses on the fading career of legendary silent film star Norma Desmond, portrayed by critically acclaimed Washington actress Katie McManus, recently seen in Ford’s Theatre’s Violet, NextStop’s Into the Woods, and Creative Cauldron’s Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (2015 Helen Hayes nomination  for best ensemble). McManus has been honored with numerous WATCH best actress nominations for such productions as A New Brain, 110 in the Shade (winner, 2009), Curtains (winner, 2010), and Side Show as well as a Helen Hayes award for best ensemble (Rent, 2010).

Diane: What is the most exciting thing about playing the iconic Norma Desmond?

Katie: Playing Norma Desmond is certainly a dream role. She has beautiful songs to sing, and her story is neurotic, lovely, and heartbreaking. She’s got it all!”

What is the most challenging thing about playing your character?

She’s complex; she could come across as very unlikeable and unsympathetic. My challenge is to keep that complexity (and neuroses, as the case may be) and make her as “human” as I can.

What do you connect most with in Norma?

Like anyone, I think, she wants to feel her life has purpose.

What is your favorite number that you do in Sunset Boulevard (and why)?

It’s very difficult to pick just one, but I would have to say “As if We Never Said Goodbye.” I think Norma is at her most vulnerable here. They lyrics are perfect.

What number from Sunset Boulevard do you wish you were singing (and why)?

Well, the title song, “Sunset Boulevard” is fantastic. Definitely that one.

What makes Sunset Boulevard special or unique?

I think Sunset Boulevard is a very accessible show. I think it appeals to a majority (and not just the regular/typical theatergoers).

What do you hope audiences take away from this production?

I think the general masses still see musicals as hokey or corny, so I always hope that some will see much further than that. I hope our audiences see (and hear) a very intriguing story with really beautiful melodies.

How is Sunset Boulevard relevant to audiences today?

The themes in this show will always be relevant: love (and unrequited love), fame (or lack thereof), greed, narcissism. It runs the gamut with themes!

Katie McManus as Norma Desmond. Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.
Katie McManus as Norma Desmond. Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Winner of seven Tony Awards, Sunset Boulevard combines the classic movie feel with what TIME magazine calls “Lloyd Webber’s most artfully constructed score.” The hit musical has engulfed audiences around the world. Webber’s score includes such poignant, bittersweet romantic songs as “With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye”.

Mark Hidalgo, most recently seen in McLean Community Players’ La Cage aux Folles, RCP’s Legally Blonde, and Arlington Players’ 9 to 5, directs and choreographs. Elisa Rosman, who recently music directed NextStop’s critically acclaimed Into the Woods, is musical director for Sunset Boulevard. Jennifer Lambert is the producer.

The RCP Sunset Boulevard cast features Katie McManus (Norma Desmond); Joshua Redford (Joe Gillis); Paul Tonden (Max); Katie Depp (Betty); Richard Farella (Artie); Mike Bagwell (Cecil B. DeMille); and Quentin Sagers (Manfred). The Sunset Boulevard ensemble includes Dwayne (DJ) Harney, Danny McKay, Kieth Flores, Sean Cator, Anthony Khong, Jasmine Jones, Cara Giambrone, Blake Green, Sally Kiernan, Grace McCarthy, and Karen Kelleher.


Sunset Boulevard plays through March 21, 2015 at Reston Community Players performing at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center – 2310 Colts Neck Road, For tickets, call the box office at (703) 476-4500 x 3, or purchase them online

It’s The Pictures That Got Small: Meet Joshua Redford, Star of Reston Community Players’ ‘Sunset Boulevard’ on DCMetroTheaterArts.

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Diane Jackson Schnoor
Diane Jackson Schnoor is delighted to be back in the DC metro area after nearly two decades away. She earned her BA at The American University, with a minor in theatre arts, and holds a master's and doctorate in elementary education from the University of Virginia. A lifelong devotee of the arts, Diane's reviews and arts feature stories have been published in The Millbrook Independent and DC Metro Theatre Arts. As an actress, Diane has performed with the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, the Fort Bragg Playhouse, TriArts Sharon Playhouse, and in musicals and dance shows in Millbrook, NY, Amenia, NY, and Lakeville, CT. Her day job career has run the gamut from adjunct college faculty to preschool director to public relations director and back again, but her primary occupation these days is as chauffeur to the two young actresses who inhabit her home in Winchester, VA.


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