I have a 56" opening and the gate protrudes out into one of the rooms to fit in the opening. I will say the gate is very easy to remove when it is not needed and put back when needed again. Only problem with that only took my 4 yr. old about 5 minutes to figure out another way to open the gate. Luckily he is not the reason we purchased the gate.
Yes, I believe so. B/c our space was 72" we ended up adding a board to the wall and then installing (it is for a dog, not a child). The gate opening has kind of a trick to it (push down button AND pull up slightly on gate, but I can still do with one hand). We were trying to stretch it as far a possible, but it doesn't look like it shortens, but rather bends at the joints (I was there but my husband installed it).