Wright State alumna Nicole Scherzinger earns critical acclaim as star of London’s ‘Sunset Boulevard’

Nicole Scherzinger, who studied musical theatre and acting at Wright State from 1996 to 1999, stars as Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” in London’s West End. (Photo by Marc Brenner)

Wright State University alumna and award-winning singer Nicole Scherzinger has received rave reviews for her starring role as Norma Desmond in the new London production of “Sunset Boulevard.”

In its review of the musical, The New York Times said Scherzinger is captivating, gives a “career-defining performance” and “finds a predatory allure in the character that is both captivating and chilling.”

The London Evening Standard said Scherzinger “absolutely bloody smashes it as Hollywood diva Norma Desmond,” bringing “not only an operatically powerful voice but shrewd comedy, harrowing pathos and a dancer’s physical precision.”

The British tabloid The Daily Mail said Scherzinger nails her performance and delivers an ear-popping showstopper, “With One Look,” in the first act.

“Sunset Boulevard” opened Sept. 21 and runs through Jan. 6, 2024, at the Savoy Theater in London’s West End.

Scherzinger studied musical theatre and acting at Wright State from 1996 to 1999. As a student, she performed in numerous productions, including Velma Kelly in “Chicago” and Julie La Verne in “Show Boat.”

She decided to leave Wright State after consulting her professors about an opportunity in Hollywood that ended up launching her stellar career.

Joe Deer, distinguished professor of musical theatre at Wright State, said Scherzinger’s critically acclaimed performance in “Sunset Boulevard” is no surprise to those who have followed her career since she left Wright State.

“Critics are recognizing the depth and power of this incredibly versatile performer in a daring production that has gotten nearly universal praise, largely based on her performance,” Deer said. “I can think of very few other performers who have sustained a top-level career in so many fields for so long. It’s so gratifying to see our outstanding alumna being recognized for her breathtaking talent and longevity in a field that chews up and spits out stars after a few years.”

Deer, who taught Scherzinger when she was a student at Wright State, said he is enormously proud of her.

“She continues to credit Wright State as a source of important training,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier to see the avalanche of critical praise for this performance that has London and the international press abuzz.”

In 2017, the Wright State Alumni Association honored Scherzinger with the Alumna of the Year Award.

Marya Spring Cordes, professor in acting and musical theatre and artistic director of Wright State Theatre, recalled the inspiring message Scherzinger shared when she returned to Wright State to receive the award in 2018.

“As Joe Deer interviewed her on the Festival Playhouse stage, we all sat in the audience rivetted by her graciousness and radiance — really engaging with the students and inspiring them to be their most authentic selves in the world and in the business,” Cordes said. “Hosting her was truly an inspirational day for us all.”

Scherzinger is a multiple award-winning, multi-platinum-selling performer, singer, actress, dancer and television personality. She has sold over 37 million singles worldwide and 16 million records as a solo artist.

She previously performed on London’s West End in a revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats.” She was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for her performance as “Grizabella.”

She performed at Windsor Castle in the official concert for the coronation of Charles III and Camilla in May 2023.

She has performed at Madison Square Garden, voiced the character Sina in Disney’s animated blockbuster “Moana” and starred in ABC’s remake of “Dirty Dancing.” She has also been a judge on “The Sing-Off,” the U.S. and U.K. versions of “The X Factor” and “The Masked Singer” on Fox. She won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2010.

Scherzinger starred in the acclaimed musical “Rent” at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles for which she received rave reviews and performed with acclaimed Italian classical tenor Andrea Bocelli as part of the PBS “Great Performances” series.

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