Critics rip into “unsalvageable” Opening Night musical with Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith
Sheridan Smith. Credit: Oliver Rosser for Feast Creative.

It seems even Sheridan Smith hasn’t been able to save new musical Opening Night from scathing reviews.

Based on John Cassavetes film, the production, featuring a book by Ivo van Hove and music and lyrics by Rufus Wainwright, is now open at London’s Gielgud Theatre.

Following a press night early this week reviews are in and while there are some positive opinions, many others have ripped into the show.

Opening Night musical reviews

Evening Standard - ⭐

"After disastrous previews, some changes have apparently been made, including the removal of a prolonged vacuuming scene (yes, really). But the show remains a hot mess, unsalvageable." - Nick Curtis, read the full review


Daily Telegraph - ⭐⭐

"How one envies those outside, though, as the evening lurches from one so-so number to the next, Wainwright’s score stylistically all over the place and many lyrics lacking rhyme or reason." - Dominic Cavendish, read the full review


iNews - ⭐

"A customarily effervescent and full-hearted performance from leading lady Sheridan Smith can do nothing to salvage this mess, through which a nasty vein of misogyny pumps insistently, and sections of which are devoid of even basic narrative sense" - Fiona Mountford, read the full review


The Independant - ⭐⭐⭐

"At the curtain call, the cast smugly break into the closest thing to an actual choreographed musical number we’ve seen all show... It won’t be enough to satisfy musical theatre fans, let alone anyone who likes their show tunes with a side of psychological realism. Still, it’s a fittingly weird finale to an evening that captures the twilit messiness of addiction, while leaving the real drama just offstage." - Alice Saville, read the full review


WhatsOnStage - ⭐⭐

"In the second half, the efforts of the entire ensemble actually bring about a measure of coherence. It’s not the least engaging evening of musical theatre I’ve ever sat through, but it is one of the most baffling wastes of talent." - Sarah Crompton, read the full review


Daily Mail - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"More than anything though, it's thanks to the emotional wattage of Smith's voice that the show really soars. To quote the lyrics of one of her early numbers, she makes 'magic out of tragic'.." - Patrick Marmion, read the full review


Daily Express - ⭐

"Talk about tempting fate... This show actually opens with a car crash. Oh, the irony. The production is more like a multi-lane pile-up, complete with overturned leaking oil tanker, giant sinkholes and possibly an earthquake, asteroid or charging rhino or two." - Stefan Kyriazis, read the full review


The Guardian - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"John Cassavetes’ 1977 film about a Broadway star in crisis might seem a natural fit for a stage adaptation. Then again, there is the risk of theatrical navel-gazing, and with its melange of gothicism, midlife angst and thespy drama, an odd narrative arc to navigate... Yet here is an extravagantly original production, every bit as eccentric as the film but also its own alchemical creation, more vivacious in this musical incarnation." - Arifa Akbar, read the full review


About the author: Jessica White

Recent University graduate Jessica is the newest writer for Stageberry. She's over the moon to be sharing her theatre knowledge and passion for musicals with the online world.


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