Sheridan Smith to star in new West End musical Opening Night, directed by Ivo van Hove

Sheridan Smith is to return to the West End in the new musical Opening Night. 

The 1977 film Opening Night, directed by John Cassavetes, centers on an alcoholic actress who fears growing older and is plagued by the spirit of one of her dead admirers. This film serves as the inspiration for the musical. The movie received negative reviews at its premiere, but like many other works, it eventually gained a solid reputation among movie buffs.

Returning to the director’s chair for this performance is Ivo van Hove (A Little Life), who helmed a non-musical version of the play for the Dutch theater group Toneelgroep Amsterdam in 2006.

For the production, which will be helmed by Smith, songwriter Rufus Wainwright will compose new songs. Among the Shirley Valentine star’s credits are Funny Girl and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Smith stated today: “Ivo van Hove, one of the greatest stage directors in history, and the musical genius Rufus Wainwright provided me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To be honest, I would have attended even if they had only asked me to read the back of a cereal box! But I’m ecstatic to have been chosen to perform the nuanced and difficult role of Myrtle in this wonderful original musical.

“After the success of A Little Life, I am thrilled to return to the West End and work with Wessex Grove to create a new musical,” Ivo van Hove stated today. Working with the amazing Rufus Wainwright, whose work I have admired for so long, is a dream come true.

We became friends because we both adored the amazing John Casavettes movie Opening Night, and we’ve always wanted to perform a musical adaptation of it. Opening Night provides us with an understanding of the struggles that go on behind the scenes at the theater, but

it is also the heartbreaking story of a woman fighting for hope and self-determination in a world that doesn’t want to listen”.

Further casting is to be revealed, while the show will run at the Gielgud Theatre from March 6 until July 27, 2024. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m.

“For me, Opening Night by John Cassavetes has long been a shining beacon representing both excellence in cinema and the might of live theater,” Wainwright remarked today. A powerful combination of theater and cinema, it’s about a very personal creative and mental survival to which I believe all people can connect on a very basic level. I’ve been wanting to create my first musical for a very long time, and this wonderful narrative, together with the amazing Sheridan Smith and the amazing Ivo van Hove, made it impossible for me to strive higher.

“Deep in the early lockdowns of 2020, just after forming our company, we zoomed in with Ivo and Rufus about turning Opening Night into a musical,” stated producers Benjamin Lowy and Emily Vaughan-Barratt today. They had a really exciting concept, and from that talk, Wessex Grove produced its first commission.

“After the success of A Little Life earlier this year, we are thrilled to be working with Ivo again, and Rufus has written the most amazing original music.” The play Opening Night explores theater-making in all its manifestations, including its heartaches, upheavals, and sheer ecstasy. We are really fortunate that Sheridan Smith, one of our greatest theatrical talents, is directing the ensemble of this brand-new musical.

Ivo van Hove wrote the show’s book, while Rufus Wainwright wrote the music and lyrics. Ivo van Hove is the director and creator of the concept. Jan Versweyveld designed the set, lighting, and video, while An D’Huys created the costumes. Tom Gibbons and Alex Twiselton handled the sound design.

Nigel Lilley provides musical direction and supervision, while Wainwright does the orchestrations. Polly Bennett is in charge of movement and choreography, Julia Horan CDG is in charge of casting, and Daniel Raggett is the assistant director.

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