5 Minutes With Sheridan Smith And The Cast Of Opening Night

Adapted from the 1997 legendary John Cassavetes' film, Opening Night is a brand new musical featuring music and lyrics by Rufus Wainwright, alongside book and direction by Tony® and Olivier ® award-winner Ivo van Hove.

It follow the story of Myrtle Gordon (Sheridan Smith), a famous but troubled actress, as she attempts to stage her comeback. However, the drama soon spills offstage when Gordon encounters an obsessive teenage fan, Nancy. As Gordon's personal life crumbles around her, the company is forced to deliver the performance of their lives. Can they perform the roles needed, or will they crack under pressure?

To celebrate the imminent world premiere of Opening Night, we had a chat with some of the cast members from the show - Sheridan Smith, John Marquez, Nicola Hughes, Amy Lennox, Hadley Fraser, Shira Haas, and Benjamin Walker.

Check out our conversation below, and book your tickets today!

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Can you tell us a little bit about your characters in Opening Night?

Sheridan Smith: I play Myrtle who is the lead actor in the 'play within a play'. She's really struggling with the script of the show and doesn't want to play the character. She feels like she's too old and is having a real crisis of confidence. Throughout the show, you gradually see her unravel, it gets quite dark and you're really not sure if she'll actually make it to opening night.

John Marquez: I play the producer David. He's a wealthy man but he's putting on this play because of his love of theatre. He's been in show business all his life and he just wants to keep this show going.

Nicola Hughes: I play Sarah, the writer of the 'play within a play'. She's a successful playwright but this is her life's work. So when Myrtle can't, or won't, do things the right way, she definitely has something to say about it...

Amy Lennox: I play Dorothee, who is married to the director of the 'play within a play'.

Hadley Fraser: And I play Manny, the director. And he's starting to get worried as the play is fast approaching opening night.

Shira Haas: I play the character of Nancy. I can't say much about her or I’ll spoil the show... But I will say that Nancy is probably Myrtle’s biggest fan, she’s obsessed with her, and they have this interaction outside the theatre at the beginning of our musical. From there, it just gets more mysterious and complicated.

Benjamin Walker: I play Maurice, an actor in the 'play within a play', but he's also Myrtle's ex-husband. The whole play is about a marriage that falls apart so some things bubble to the surface. The two of them have some unfinished business.



What's been your favourite part about the rehearsal process?

Sheridan: I mean, I'm in awe of Ivo van Hove, the book writer and director. I love his way of working, you're off-book from Day One. You’re rehearsing in costume from Day One. It's quite terrifying but incredibly freeing because you can really get into the mind of the character.

Benjamin: Yeah, I've never known a process like it. They even built the set for the first day of rehearsals. We hit the ground running and got our hands dirty from the very start.

Shira: We called the rehearsal room 'The Playground' before which I think is very accurate. You’re like a child trying new things...

Benjamin: And Ivo will say, "Yeah, you're terrible on the swing set. Get off there!"

Hadley: I think Ivo works quite quickly and there's a lot of joy in that, you can't sit in things for too long and overthink. You don't over-complicate or over-scrutinise. You just DO it.



Without giving anything away about the show, do you have a favourite moment or line from Opening Night?

Sheridan: There's so many different parts. I guess there’s the song right at the beginning of the show called 'Magic'. It's before her mental health goes downhill, and during the song, she has a real free moment where she's jumping around everywhere like she's not worried about anyone watching psychoanalysing her. She's just free.

John: And there is some incredible music and harmonies in this show. There are so many moments when ‘I don’t know how many part’ harmonies come out of nowhere. It’s beautiful, what’s not to love about that?

Amy: I think my favourite line has to be...

Amy & Shira: "Shut up, Kelly!"

Amy: It's one of Manny's lines. Manny probably isn't someone you'd want to be directed by. He's definitely not evil but he really lays into the dressers, especially Kelly!

Shira: It's our company catchphrase now, it just sums up the chaos of the theatre.

Hadley: My favourite line is said by Gus, one of the actors in the play within a play. He says "Big living rooms really turn me on". I just think it's such a strange line, but so perfect for the piece. He's standing like a lemon on the stage because somebody just went off and he's just lost. And it's that wonderful human moment where you panic and go… "What do I say?!"

Benjamin: My favourite is one of Sheridan's lines. "I'm losing the reality of the reality". I mean, if that's not meta, I don't know what it is. It’s that feeling of being displaced as a person, which is not unique to actors. Everyone knows that feeling and it's all about who can you hold on to to help you find your reality again, whether it's in a love relationship, or at work, or with a group of friends, or family.



And finally, describe Opening Night in 3 words.

Sheridan: Intense. Wild. Enjoyable.

Nicola & John: Heart. Anticipation. Unique.

Amy & Hadley: Joyous. Profound. Theatrical.

Shira & Benjamin: Fresh. Psychological. Exhilarating.


You can book tickets now for the world premiere of this brand new musical!

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