I have some exciting news to share with all of you. Over the past years I have been hard at writing my first musical: “John Cassavetes’ OPENING NIGHT”. I always knew I was going to write a musical eventually and I think a lot of people have been waiting for it. A few years back the wonderful Ivo van Hove contacted me and proposed the idea to write a musical based on John Cassavetes’ iconic 1977 movie “Opening Night” with the utterly mesmerizing Gena Rowlands in the lead. This movie melds the worlds of film and theater like no other. Myrtle’s struggle to come to terms with her demons, her age, and her art and ultimately of course her life has always inspired me and given me hope in situations where I have struggled as an artist and human being. The songs seemed to have been waiting at the stage door when Ivo and I started the process of writing the musical. In the summer we then cast the incomparable Sheridan Smith in the lead and from there everything took off. We got a theater and are putting together an amazing cast surrounding Sheridan and luckily Sheridan’s, Ivo’s and my schedule all aligned so that on March 26th 2024 we will celebrate the opening of “Opening Night” at the incredibly beautiful Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End. The show will be playing until July 27th, with previews starting on March 6th.
Here are two quotes from the press release from Sheridan and Ivo which I think captures the essence of our collaboration and what this piece means to all of us.
“The chance to work with the musical genius that is Rufus Wainwright and one of the world’s greatest stage directors Ivo van Hove was a once in a life time opportunity, and quite frankly if they’d asked me to read out the back of a cereal packet
I’d have been there! But, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be cast in this fantastic original musical and to play the complex and challenging character of Myrtle”.
“After the success of A Little Life I am thrilled to return to the West End together with Wessex Grove to create a new musical. It is a dream come true to collaborate with the wonderful Rufus Wainwright, whose work I have been a fan of for so many years. We connected over our shared love of the incredible John Casavettes film Opening Night and it has long been an ambition of ours to bring a musical version to the stage. Opening Night not only gives us an insight into the trials and tribulations behind the scenes of the theatre, 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”.
-Ivo Van Hove
Behind the scenes we are supported by an all-star crew: Set, Lighting and Video Design by Jan Versweyveld, Costume Design by An D’Huys and Sound Design by Tom Gibbons and Alex Twiselton. Musical Supervision and Musical Direction by Nigel
Lilley. Movement and Choreography is by Polly Bennett, Casting by Julia Horan CDG and the Associate Director is Daniel Raggett.
Tickets are on sale today!