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Sunset Boulevard – Broadway Cast Earnings and Salary



Welcome to our article on Sunset Boulevard, where we explore the fascinating world of Broadway cast earnings and salaries. As one of the most iconic musicals to grace the Broadway stage, Sunset Boulevard has captivated audiences with its compelling storyline, unforgettable characters, and dazzling performances. In this article, we delve into the financial aspects of the production, shedding light on the earnings and salary trends of the talented actors who bring this show to life.

Key Takeaways:

The salaries of Broadway stars, including those in Sunset Boulevard, have increased over the years.
Broadway salaries have followed the trend of Hollywood salaries, rising to attract top talent away from movies and television.
While Broadway actors earn less compared to Hollywood stars, top performers like Julie Andrews have the potential to earn millions annually.
Gender disparities in Broadway salaries are evident, with female performers commanding high salaries compared to male actors.
Sunset Boulevard’s success and enduring popularity have led to multiple revivals and Tony Awards recognition.

Stay with us as we uncover the evolution of Broadway salaries, the influence of Hollywood on these salaries, notable earners in the industry, and the impact of Sunset Boulevard on the Broadway scene. Discover the fascinating world of theater finances and gain insights into the financial landscape of Broadway cast earnings and salary.

The Evolution of Broadway Salaries

Over the past few decades, the salaries of Broadway stars have experienced a remarkable evolution. While they may not reach the astronomical earnings of Hollywood megastars like Sylvester Stallone, Broadway’s top performers now command significantly higher salaries compared to their counterparts in the 1950s and 1960s. This shift in earnings reflects the growing recognition and popularity of Broadway as a platform for exceptional talent.

Previously, Broadway salaries were considerably more modest, and performers relied heavily on the prestige and artistic fulfillment that came with being a part of the theater community. However, with the rise of Hollywood and its soaring salaries, Broadway faced the challenge of attracting and retaining top talent. Consequently, Broadway salaries began to increase, following the trajectory set by their counterparts in the film industry.

Today, Broadway stars have the potential to earn millions annually, particularly those with household names like Julie Andrews. Andrews, acclaimed for her roles in beloved musicals such as The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady, can command a salary befitting her immense talent and popularity. This demonstrates the significant progress made in compensating Broadway actors for their exceptional contributions to the performing arts.

Comparatively, although Broadway salaries have evolved over time, they still tend to be lower than those of Hollywood stars. The nature and economics of the theater industry, with its limited runs and expansive production costs, contribute to this disparity. Despite this, the allure of Broadway remains strong, and the caliber of talent on Broadway stages continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

In the next section, we will explore the influence of Hollywood’s soaring salaries on the development of Broadway salaries and the impact it has had on attracting top talent to the theater industry.

The Influence of Hollywood on Broadway Salaries

The rise in Hollywood salaries has had a significant impact on Broadway salaries. As movie salaries skyrocketed, theaters needed to offer more competitive pay to attract top talent. This increased competition between the entertainment industries has led to higher salaries for Broadway actors and actresses.

With Hollywood setting the benchmark for high earning potential, Broadway had to adjust its compensation packages to remain competitive. Contract negotiations became more complex as actors and actresses demanded higher salaries and better terms. The stars often had the upper hand in these negotiations, leveraging their on-screen success and popularity to secure lucrative deals on the stage.

Moreover, many film actors who were not yet at the superstar level grew interested in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. These actors saw the theater as an opportunity to enhance their reputations and gain valuable experience outside of the film industry. This influx of Hollywood talent further intensified the competition for roles and contributed to the increasing salaries on Broadway.

Theater vs. Hollywood Salaries

While Broadway salaries have become more lucrative in recent years, they still pale in comparison to their Hollywood counterparts. In Hollywood, leading actors can command multi-million dollar paychecks for a single film, while Broadway salaries typically range from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per week.

However, it’s important to note that Broadway offers its own unique rewards. The theater allows actors and actresses to connect with live audiences and experience the thrill of performing on stage. Additionally, Broadway productions often have longer runs and the potential for profit-sharing, allowing performers to benefit financially from the success of a show.

Overall, the influence of Hollywood on Broadway salaries has brought increased competition and higher pay to the theater industry. While Hollywood may still reign supreme in terms of earning potential, Broadway has seen significant growth in its salaries, making it a more attractive career choice for many talented performers.

Hollywood Salaries
Theater Salaries

Multi-million dollar paychecks for leading actors
Thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per week

Shorter production cycles
Longer runs, potential for profit-sharing

Global audience reach through films
Connection with live audiences

Notable Broadway Salaries

When it comes to the biggest wage earners on Broadway, two names stand out: Julie Andrews and Carol Channing. These renowned actresses have made a significant impact on the theater world and continue to earn top salaries for their remarkable talent and contributions to Broadway.

Julie Andrews, best known for her iconic role in the musical “Victor/Victoria,” has the potential to earn millions annually. Her exceptional talent and widespread popularity have led her to secure a 5 percent share of the show’s profits, adding to her impressive earnings. Andrews’s ability to captivate audiences with her enchanting performances has made her one of Broadway’s highest-paid stars.

Carol Channing has spent over three decades portraying the beloved character of Dolly Levi in the musical “Hello, Dolly!” Her dedication and commitment to the role have not only earned her a substantial salary but also a percentage of the show’s gross. Channing’s enduring popularity with audiences has solidified her position as one of Broadway’s biggest wage earners.

Other Notable Wage Earners

While Julie Andrews and Carol Channing may be at the forefront of Broadway salaries, there are several other notable earners who have achieved significant success in the industry:

Betty Buckley: A Tony Award-winning actress, known for her powerful performances in productions like “Cats” and “Sunset Boulevard.”
Glenn Close: An acclaimed actress, recognized for her portrayal of Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” and other memorable roles.
Matthew Broderick: A versatile actor with an impressive resume, including his notable performance in “The Producers.”

These talented individuals have not only left a lasting impression on audiences but have also solidified their status as some of the biggest earners in the world of Broadway.

Sunset Boulevard Cast Earnings

In the iconic musical “Sunset Boulevard,” the cast members were handsomely rewarded for their performances. Leading lady Betty Buckley, who portrayed the enigmatic Norma Desmond, received an impressive salary of $35,000 per week. In addition to her weekly earnings, Buckley also enjoyed 5% of the musical’s box office gross that exceeded $600,000. Such a remarkable compensation package reflects the outstanding popularity and financial success of the production.

Not to be outdone, Glenn Close, who originated the role of Norma Desmond on Broadway, earned an even more substantial salary of $48,000 per week. Close’s contract included an enticing clause that entitled her to a significant 10% of the musical’s gross revenue. These notable cast earnings highlight the immense impact and recognition that “Sunset Boulevard” garnered during its run.

Cast Member
Salary per Week
Percentage of Gross

Betty Buckley

Glenn Close

Gender Disparities in Broadway Salaries

When it comes to the top salary category on Broadway, male actors are noticeably underrepresented. While female performers like Julie Andrews and Carol Channing command high salaries, their male counterparts, such as Matthew Broderick, earn significantly less. Broderick reportedly made around $15,000 a week during his time in the hit musical “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.”

This gender disparity in Broadway salaries is a notable trend in the theater industry. Despite the increasing recognition of gender equality and the push for pay parity in various professions, Broadway still reflects an imbalance between male and female actors’ earnings in the top salary bracket.

Here’s a comparison of the salaries of some notable male and female Broadway performers:

Male Actors
Female Actors

Matthew Broderick
Julie Andrews

$15,000 per week
Millions annually

“How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying”

Various hit musicals

This wage disparity highlights the existing challenges faced by male actors in achieving equal compensation in the upper echelons of Broadway. More attention and efforts are needed to address this issue and ensure fair and equitable pay for all actors, regardless of their gender.

The Legacy of Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard is a captivating musical that draws inspiration from the iconic 1950 film of the same name. With music composed by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber and powerful lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, this production takes audiences on a mesmerizing journey through the story of Norma Desmond.

Norma Desmond, brilliantly portrayed in the musical, is a once-glamorous star from the silent screen era who finds herself longing for a triumphant return to the limelight. Her obsession with reclaiming her stardom drives the compelling storyline, highlighting themes of ambition, fame, and the price one is willing to pay for success.

Sunset Boulevard made its debut in London in 1993 and has since captured the hearts of audiences worldwide with its enchanting melodies and captivating performances. The musical has seen numerous productions and tours, captivating theatergoers with its timeless story and unforgettable songs.

The impact of Sunset Boulevard is deeply felt in the theater world, as it has garnered critical acclaim and prestigious awards. The unique combination of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music, the evocative lyrics, and the compelling storyline has made Sunset Boulevard a masterpiece of the stage. Its enduring legacy continues to captivate audiences, showcasing the immense talent and creativity behind its creation.

Sunset Boulevard’s Legal Battles

Despite its popularity, Sunset Boulevard has encountered its fair share of legal battles and financial challenges. These issues have significantly impacted the overall profitability of the production.

The running costs of Sunset Boulevard were exceptionally high, leading to significant financial losses. This was due to various factors, such as elaborate set designs, extensive cast and crew requirements, and other production expenses.

The legal battles surrounding Sunset Boulevard further compounded the financial struggles. These legal disputes involved copyright infringements, contractual disputes, and intellectual property claims.

One notable legal battle was between the creators of Sunset Boulevard and certain individuals claiming that elements of the musical infringe upon their original ideas or works. These legal disputes resulted in lengthy court proceedings and substantial legal costs.

Additionally, disputes arose between the producers and some members of the original cast and crew regarding contract negotiations and profit-sharing agreements. These conflicts further strained the financial stability of the production.

Ultimately, the combination of high running costs and protracted legal battles resulted in significant financial losses for Sunset Boulevard. Despite its enduring popularity, the production struggled to generate substantial profits, impacting its long-term sustainability.

Stephen Sondheim’s Involvement in Sunset Boulevard

Stephen Sondheim, renowned composer and lyricist, was initially involved in a musical stage adaptation of Sunset Boulevard. However, a chance encounter with Billy Wilder, the co-screenwriter and director of the original film, led Sondheim to abandon the project. Wilder believed that Sunset Boulevard should be an opera rather than a traditional musical.

The Success of Sunset Boulevard Original Cast

The original production of Sunset Boulevard featured Ria Jones in the iconic role of Norma Desmond and Michael Ball as Joe Gillis. Despite being in the experimental stage and not yet ready for potential producers, the musical garnered tremendous success during the 1991 Sydmonton Festival. Ria Jones and Michael Ball delivered captivating performances that played a pivotal role in establishing the musical’s reputation.

Major Characters in Sunset Boulevard

The musical Sunset Boulevard features a compelling cast of characters who bring the story to life. Each character plays a crucial role in the narrative, contributing to the drama, intrigue, and emotion of the musical.

Norma Desmond

Norma Desmond is a faded star of the silent screen era. Once a renowned actress, she now lives in seclusion, yearning for a triumphant comeback. Norma Desmond’s character embodies the complexities of fame, delusion, and obsession.

Joe Gillis

Joe Gillis is a struggling screenwriter who stumbles upon Norma Desmond’s reclusive mansion. Intrigued by her enigmatic personality, he becomes entangled in her world, both as her companion and as the recipient of her lavish lifestyle. Joe Gillis’s character explores the themes of ambition, morality, and the price of success.

Betty Schaefer

Betty Schaefer is a talented young writer who develops a close relationship with Joe Gillis. As their connection deepens, Betty becomes a source of inspiration and a catalyst for self-discovery for Joe. Betty Schaefer’s character represents the duality of pursuit and compromise in the pursuit of dreams.

Cecil B. DeMille

Cecil B. DeMille is a renowned director who plays a pivotal role in the storyline of Sunset Boulevard. As a prominent figure in Hollywood, he symbolizes the industry’s power, influence, and history. Cecil B. DeMille’s character provides insight into the dynamics between fame and creativity.

The interactions and relationships among these major characters drive the narrative in Sunset Boulevard, creating a captivating and poignant exploration of love, fame, and the pursuit of dreams.

The Impact of Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard, with its timeless appeal, has made a significant impact on the Broadway scene. The musical has seen multiple revivals and successful productions, captivating audiences with its mesmerizing storyline and exceptional talent.

In recognition of its excellence, Sunset Boulevard has been honored with several prestigious Tony Awards. It has received accolades for Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book of a Musical. These awards reflect the critical acclaim and admiration that the production has garnered over the years.

With its enduring popularity, Sunset Boulevard continues to captivate theater enthusiasts and draw crowds to Broadway. It has cemented its place as a beloved classic, captivating audiences with its remarkable music, compelling characters, and unforgettable story. The impact of Sunset Boulevard extends far beyond its initial debut, leaving an indelible mark on the world of musical theater.


How have Broadway salaries evolved over the years?

Broadway salaries have seen an upward trajectory, with top performers now earning significantly more than their predecessors in the 1950s and 1960s.

What has influenced the increase in Broadway salaries?

The rise in Hollywood salaries has had a significant impact, as theaters needed to offer competitive pay to attract top talent away from movies and television.

Who are some of the top earners on Broadway?

Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, Betty Buckley, Glenn Close, and Matthew Broderick are among the notable earners on Broadway.

How much did Betty Buckley and Glenn Close earn in the musical “Sunset Boulevard”?

Betty Buckley earned $35,000 a week along with 5 percent of the box office gross over $600,000 in “Sunset Boulevard,” while Glenn Close earned $48,000 a week plus 10 percent of the gross.

Do male actors earn less on Broadway compared to their female counterparts?

Yes, top-earning male actors like Matthew Broderick earn significantly less compared to female performers like Julie Andrews and Carol Channing.

What is “Sunset Boulevard” about?

“Sunset Boulevard” is a musical based on the 1950 film of the same name, telling the story of Norma Desmond, a faded star of the silent screen era, and her obsession with making a comeback.

Has “Sunset Boulevard” faced any challenges?

Yes, the musical has faced legal battles and financial struggles, leading to significant losses.

Was Stephen Sondheim involved in the musical adaptation of “Sunset Boulevard”?

Stephen Sondheim was initially involved but later abandoned the project after a conversation with Billy Wilder, the co-screenwriter and director of the original film.

Who were the original cast members of “Sunset Boulevard”?

Ria Jones portrayed Norma Desmond, and Michael Ball played Joe Gillis in the original production of “Sunset Boulevard.”

Who are the major characters in “Sunset Boulevard”?

The major characters in “Sunset Boulevard” include Norma Desmond, Joe Gillis, Betty Schaefer, and Cecil B. DeMille.

What impact has “Sunset Boulevard” had on Broadway?

“Sunset Boulevard” has had multiple revivals and successful productions, winning Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book of a Musical.

The post Sunset Boulevard – Broadway Cast Earnings and Salary appeared first on Zac Johnson.

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