Opening Night

We sat down for a chat with the cast of Opening Night; Amy Lennox, Hadley Fraser, Nicola Hughes, John Marquez, Benjamin Walker, and Shira Haas. Take a look at what they had to say about this new and exciting musical! Opening Night opens at the Gielgud Theatre on 6th March 2024.

Can you tell me about your character?

Hadley Fraser: So I play Manny who is the director of the play that is in production, in previews. I guess he’s worked with quite a few of these characters before. There’s a familiarity there, there is something of a family feel to all of this. Manny I suppose has to wrestle with some of the things that happen in the theatre sometimes, you know when productions encounter situations or problems or you know stuff that life brings forth and Manny has to keep the train on the tracks. Successfully or unsuccessfully.

Amy Lennox: So I’m Dorothy who is Manny’s wife (Manny is the director of the play) and we have quite an interesting dynamic, we’ve been married a long time so things come with the territory. I used to be an actress, I’ve kind of taken myself out of it now and I’m sort of on the sideline of the show.

John Marquez: So I’m playing David, he’s the producer, and he has a lot of money (personal money). He is producing this play because he loves it, he loves theatre. He’s a very kind man and amongst everything that is going on with Myrtle (Sheridan’s character), all the troubles she’s having, he stays very solidly behind her. He loves her, he really loves her but besides that, he is very passionate about the play. He’s a very good, nice man. He’s very very keen for the show to go on.

Nicola Hughes: So my character is a lady called Sarah Good and she’s the writer of the play ‘Second Woman’ and she’s written this play and she thinks it’s her masterpiece. She’s a very successful Broadway playwright and this means an awful lot to her. The question is ‘Is it about her or not?’ and in my case, I think it is but she doesn’t necessarily want to share that with everybody but that’s why it means an awful lot to her so the last thing she wants is for this play to be sabotaged by anybody and you’ll see what happens in the play within the play.

Benjamin Walker: I play Maurice, an actor in the play with Myrtle but also I’m Myrtle’s ex-husband and we have some substantial unfinished business.

Shira Haas: Nancy is a huge fan of Myrtle (Sheridan’s character). They have their first encounter at the beginning of the play and then it gets weirder and weirder (and more exciting). That’s all I’m gonna say, let’s keep it interesting.

What do you love most about your character?

Amy Lennox: I get some beautiful moments, Rufus has written some stunning music; all the songs are beautiful. In the last 3 years, we got involved in this that was one of the major things, it’s such a joy to sing them. They span over different genres and encapture the atmosphere of the time. Dorothy has some really beautiful moments. We have a quartet in Act 1 that musically is really quite powerful and emotionally is beautifully heartbreaking.

Hadley Fraser: I think heartbreak is the word, there’s a real sort of depth of emotion that people love coming to see backstage of the theatre. Whether it’s Noises Off, even Shakespeare was doing it back in the day wasn’t he… plays within plays, there’s something quite enticing for audiences to come and see these characters being put through their paces on stage and off as well. So for us, I suppose there’s delight in the proximity that we have to these characters. At some point you’ll go ‘Oh yeah I’ve been there’ ‘I know that’; when your professional life and private life intertwine, when there’s friction between those two things. Sometimes I re-watch rehearsals and I think ‘Yeah I know what that is’, it’s not such a great leap when you’re onstage and thinking about how to assimilate yourself into this character. I don’t think there’s necessarily too much of a leap. There’s also a desire for realism within the production, so that’s really satisfying. It doesn’t feel like you’re having to sort of hit the back wall the whole time, it’s not like you’re doing some fairy-tale, it’s very true to life so there’s that truth and there’s that proximity to us. It’s really something special.

Nicola Hughes: More so than the character itself but I like the way that the play is quite a natural way of performing. It’s not a typical musical where you’re playing your role and now I break into song. It’s quite seamless, I quite like that sort of very naturalized performance. In terms of my character, I like that while she wants to stay behind the scenes there are moments where she will say what’s on her mind. If she wants to get a character to do something she will get up and say it. This has never happened to me with a writer before, I’ve never really had a writer enter the space. A lot of writers leave that for the director and will maybe have a private word with the director but she doesn’t mind saying her piece because this play means everything to her. So I quite like that. She’s quite strong-headed.

John Marquez: It’s that he’s got this big heart, he’s in it for the right reasons. So often the producer can be portrayed as a bad person, sort of wheelin’ and dealin’ but he’s just above board very very lovely man who loves the arts and the production so that’s a really lovely thing, to be able to play someone with a big heart.

Shira Haas: I’ve never done anything like this, this is my musical debut which is exciting and different and ‘blah’. It’s also such a unique character, every song that I sing is completely different. Even the genre is a bit different because it’s such a weird and unexpected character so I feel like every scene for me is to bring a completely different colour. It’s also very different from other roles that I’ve played before, which is always a good thing to do for an actor so that’s what I’m most excited about.

Benjamin Walker: What do I like about Maurice? I think he’s funny. Yeah, I think he’s funny. It’s absurd what we do for a living, it’s really absurd. We play pretend and he can enjoy and also observe the complexities of doing a love scene with his ex-wife pretending to be in love but also pretending to have a fight. There are a lot of nuances, opportunity for drama but also an opportunity for humour.

Describe the show in 3 words.

Amy & Hadley: Theatrical. Profound. Joy.

Nicola & John: Complex. Nervewracking. Heart.

Shira & Ben: Fresh. Exhilarating. Psycological.

Book your Opening Night tickets now online, over the phone, or here on the LSBO website. Opening Night opens at the Gielgud Theatre on 6th March and will play until 27th July. Don’t miss your chance to see what is set to be a groundbreaking new musical and book tickets now!

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