Nicole Scherzinger, a Wright State alum, nominated for highest honor in British theater

Credit: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

Credit: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

Wright State University alumna Nicole Scherzinger has received an Olivier Award nomination, the highest honor in British theater, for her fantastic, revelatory portrayal of silent film star Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Sunset Boulevard.”

The superbly reimagined, multimedia-driven, freshly scaled-down revival received 11 Olivier nominations, which were revealed March 12. In addition to Scherzinger’s nod for Best Actress in a Musical, the production was notably recognized for Best Musical Revival, Jamie Lloyd’s thrillingly cinematic direction, Jack Knowles extraordinary lighting design, and the excellent performances of leading actor Tom Francis (Joe Gillis), supporting actor David Thaxton (Max von Mayerling) and supporting actress Grace Hodgett Young (Betty Schaefer).

“Sunset Boulevard” opened last fall at London’s Savoy Theatre on Oct. 12 and closed Jan. 6. I saw the production Nov. 16 and was blown away by the production’s ability to cater to Scherzinger’s inherent strengths as a dynamic triple threat. Anyone who saw her at Wright State in the late ‘90s, especially her sizzling, sensational portrayal of Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” can attest to her ability to deliver the goods, but “Sunset Boulevard” allowed her a unique opportunity to soar as never before.



Appearing as stunning as ever with deeply captivating eyes befitting a silent film star, Scherzinger totally immersed herself in Norma’s kooky, dangerous complexity from a dramatic, foundational standpoint (clinging to past glories unable to grasp that her career is in the toilet) and a fun, anachronistic standpoint (while celebrating New Year’s Eve late in Act 1 she goes hip-hop by doing the running man).

In addition to winningly showcasing the ballroom technique that catapulted her to the top on “Dancing with the Stars,” her splendidly expressive renditions of “With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye” raised the roof, the latter receiving a standing ovation at my performance which is rare in London. Both songs featured her bathed in incredible beams of light thanks to Knowles. She also shared amazing chemistry with the cool, steadfast and handsome Francis.

Scherzinger, a Grammy-nominated former member of the Pussycat Dolls, has sold over 37 million singles worldwide and 16 million records as a solo artist. In addition to receiving an Olivier Award nomination as Grizabella in the 2014 London revival of “Cats,” she has been a judge on “The Sing-Off” as well as the U.S. and U.K. versions of “The X Factor” and “The Masked Singer,” and won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2010. She also performed at Windsor Castle in the official concert for the coronation of Charles III and Camilla in May 2023.

While studying musical theatre at Wright State from 1996 to 1999, her credits included Velma Kelly in “Chicago” and Julie LaVerne in “Show Boat.” Although she left Wright State to pursue opportunities in Hollywood, the Wright State Alumni Association honored her with the Alumna of the Year Award in 2017.

Scherzinger won London’s 2023 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical Performance. She will make her Broadway debut in “Sunset Boulevard” next season.

Other notable Olivier nominees include Sarah Jessica Parker (”Plaza Suite”) and “Succession” star Sarah Snook (”The Picture of Dorian Gray”) who will compete for Best Actress.

The 2024 Olivier Awards will be April 14 at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

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