Robert Lindsay has said he “lost it completely” as he was “so emotional” on the opening night of musical Anything Goes.
The Olivier, Tony and Bafta award winner, who stars as Moonface Martin, said the show’s cast wept backstage due to the incredible reaction from the sold-out audience during the first performance.
The show is on a limited 12-week run from July 23 until October 17 at the Barbican Theatre in London, and then will embark on a UK tour.
Lindsay told the PA news agency: “I lost it completely, I was so emotional.
“I think the journey is going to be like it is a tonic for very, very bad times.
“It was written and came out of prohibition and all the depression, and this is coming out of a depression, it’s just perfect timing again for this show.”
Actress Sutton Foster, who is reprising her Tony Award-winning role as Reno Sweeney, added: “I was sort of stunned, I cried a lot during rehearsals.
“And then during preview, I’ve never experienced anything like it ever.
“I think it was this combination of an audience so hungry for theatre again, performers so hungry to perform again.”
The show is set on the passenger ship SS American, which is sailing from New York to London, where two unlikely pairs are on the course to find true love when comical disguise, singing sailors and bizarre antics occur along the way.
While discussing the difficulties the art and theatre industry has experienced during the pandemic, Lindsay and Foster both admitted they had considered leaving the theatre world at one stage.
Lindsay, who has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in the West End, said: “I considered packing it all in.
“I thought ‘Well what’s the point if I can’t do it?’ I did a little film and I did a little bit in telly.
“It’s what I love, theatre is my passion, and that’s why I think I found it so emotional in that first preview. It was just like, ‘Oh God, it’s back’.”
The American Broadway actress, who stars in the TV series Younger, added: “I just never thought that what I did for a living just wouldn’t exist, that freaked me out.
“That had just never happened in my 25 years in the industry, it was really scary.”
The show has a company of 50 performers, including a full-sized live orchestra and tap-dancing sailors who perform numerous routines lasting up to eight-and-a-half minutes.
Foster said the rehearsal period was “playful” and filled with “so much laughter” and that it felt “wonderful to be able to share that with audiences”.
West End star Gary Wilmot, who plays Elisha Whitney, added: “There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh in the theatre stage.”
The musical, which also stars The Good Life actress Felicity Kendal, was written by Cole Porter in 1934 and based on the original book by PG Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, and was later revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.
The show is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall, whose Broadway production of the show previously won the Tony Awards for best musical revival, best choreography and best actress in a musical for Foster.