Theater-goers and celebs including Anne Hathaway, Tom Hiddleston and John Mulaney gathered in Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre for opening night, celebrating a show tackling grief, birth and death through the eyes of two lead characters known simply as Alex and Abe.
Gyllenhaal — who plays Abe, a grieving son and new father — expressed gratitude that his family, including sister Maggie, was on hand to cheer him on. The play, he told Variety, is about the nature of humanity.
“So much of what I see in theatre is about our systems and this is a show about being a human being, just very simply about that, about all of us,” Gyllenhaal explained. “There’s a moment where the audience’s imaginations turn on, and just ‘boom’ and all of a sudden, you feel everyone go back and spend time with their family.”
But Sturridge — who plays Alex, a photographer on vacation with his daughter and wife — said that the actors’ busy schedules don’t allow for ample downtime. “Eight shows a week, so not much,” he quipped.
After a red carpet featuring fellow theatre actors and producers like Annaleigh Ashford and Jordan Roth, attendees grabbed their cocktails and headed to their seats. Laughs and cheering erupted and tears flowed through the Broadway theatre as Sturridge and Gyllenhaal delivered raw performances, leaving not a dry eye in the crowd.
During an interview at Hudson Theatre’s stage door, Simon Stephens (playwright of the first act, “Sea Wall”) noted his 10-year relationship with Sturridge and discussed the importance of the show during America’s current political turmoil.
“I hope [audiences] take away, ‘s—, Tom Sturridge is good,’” said Stephens. “I think [‘Sea Wall/A Life’] becomes a show of kindness and then a show of opportunism and I think we’re living in a time politically where we need more than ever before the capacity to be kind to one another.”
Redeye Grill hosted the after party, where stars like Nicholas Braun of “Succession” dined on sushi and dessert.
“Sea Wall/A Life” will run until Sept. 29.