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Nicole Scherzinger as Norma Desmond? Yes, There’s a Connection.


Nicole Scherzinger was exhausted. It was a week since Jamie Lloyd’s new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” had begun performances, and Scherzinger was playing the lead role of Norma Desmond — the forgotten star of the silent screen whose attempt at a comeback doesn’t end well.

In Lloyd’s stripped-down, psychologically focused production at the Savoy Theater, Norma’s unraveling psyche is the heart of a story that is less about the loss of stardom than the emotional fallout of being passed over while in possession of all your gifts. At the end of the show the previous night, Scherzinger stood alone onstage, covered in blood and dazed, appearing to hardly register the audience’s wild applause.

“It’s grueling,” she said last week while curled up on a chair in the depths of the Savoy. “But for many years I have been saying I am using a fraction of my potential, and now I feel I have really tapped into that.”

Although her parents were blue-collar workers with little money to attend concerts or the theater, she grew up singing and loving music (her mother’s family had a musical group called Sons and Daughters of Hawaii). She attended a performing arts high school, acted professionally in Louisville, and studied theater (“Stanislavski and Shakespeare and all that”) and voice in college.

After leaving college early to join an acoustic rock band, Scherzinger auditioned for “Popstars,” a reality series that offered the winning contestants a place in a musical group and a recording contract. Her winning group, Eden’s Crush, was modestly successful, and “it got me out of Louisville,” she said about her move to Los Angeles.

Lloyd said that Scherzinger was “constantly searching, questioning, finding details, deepening her understanding of the inner world of the character.” Her work ethic (asking questions, taking notes and sometimes working through breaks), he added, has been an inspiration to the entire cast. “You would never know, through this entire process, that she didn’t have an acting background.”

Asked about future plans, Scherzinger said her dream was to write her own musical, loosely based on her life.

“After all these years, I finally have the courage not to worry about what others think, to know I have something to say,” she said. “As Jamie always says, ‘You are brave, be braver.’”


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