Rufus Wainwright blames post-Brexit 'lack of imagination' for Sheridan Smith show flop

Opening Night received largely negative reviews and is closing early
Sheridan Smith in Opening Night
Jan Versweyveld
Robert Dex @RobDexES1 minute ago

Songwriter Rufus Wainwright said a “lack of imagination” among West End audiences since Brexit was partly to blame for the failure of his musical Opening Night.

The show, which stars Sheridan Smith as an actress on the verge of a breakdown, will close on May - 18 two months earlier than its planned end date of July 27 after it received a mauling at the hands of the critics.

Rufus Wainwright
Getty Images for Elsie Fest

Wainwright told the Guardian: “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”.

He admitted the show “wasn’t perfect by any means” but said much of the negative reaction was down to Britain becoming more insular since the vote to leave the EU, adding: “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.”

Wainwright, the son of singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, previously wrote two operas as well as releasing a string of albums.