Rufus Wainwright blames early closure of musical on Brexit

Sheridan Smith as Myrtle in Opening Night

Composer and songwriter Rufus Wainwright has shared his thoughts on the premature conclusion of his musical Opening Night, currently in its final days in London’s West End.

The show, led by Sheridan Smith and directed by Ivo van Hove, based on the John Cassavetes film, has decided to cut its run short, a decision that hasn’t gone without comment from its creators.

The production was met with a number of one star reviews on opening – although did receive more positive write ups from some publications.

Reflecting on the broader implications of the show’s reception, Wainwright suggested in an interview with The Guardian that the post-Brexit cultural landscape might be influencing public and critical reception.

He shared: “I do feel that since Brexit, England has entered into a darker corridor where it is a little more narrow in its outlook and the vitriol because we put ‘English rose Sheridan Smith through this ordeal of European theatre’ felt a little bit suspect to me… I was a little surprised by that.”

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

Wainwright also pointed out a discrepancy in reception between audiences in Europe and the UK, noting that while European reviews were overwhelmingly positive, the staging and rhythm which were distinctly European, faced backlash in the UK.

He lamented the lack of openness to different theatrical styles, stating, “There’s a lack of imagination and curiosity about change. All of the reviews from Europe were incredible for this piece; the staging and the rhythm is more European and there was a vitriolic reaction against that.

“I don’t think it was perfect and that I don’t deserve criticism, but this thing of shutting it down if it’s not exactly what you want is not really the theatrical lane that I want to live in.”

Despite the early closure, Wainwright remains philosophical about the impact of Opening Night, saying, “I think the West End has got pretty staid… The main objective I have is that people think about it for days and days and look: people have thought about Opening Night now for weeks.

“It has remained in the psyche of the press and the public… it does endure for better or for worse.”

About the author: Rachel Wise

UK based freelancer journalist Rachel contributes regularly to Stageberry with features and interviews from the hottest new shows and stage stars.


Follow us