Sheridan Smith admits Rufus Wainwright songs for new musical are a 'struggle'

The theatre and TV star says that even she has had to take extra singing lessons to tackle the tricky score.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Sheridan Smith attending The Olivier Awards 2023 at the Royal Albert Hall on April 02, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Sheridan Smith will star in Opening Night. (Getty Images)

What did you miss?

Sheridan Smith might be an Olivier Award-winning musical actor, but she has admitted that Rufus Wainwright's songs for her new musical are so tricky that she had to take extra singing lessons.

The actor is no stranger to a big musical number - she won an Olivier Award for West End musical Legally Blonde, was nominated for an Emmy and a Bafta for Cilla, and has been up for trophies at the Classic BRIT Awards. But even the star has found musician Wainwright's score for Opening Night a "struggle".

Opening Night begins at the Gielgud Theatre on 6 March and Smith stars in the musical about a Broadway show's leading lady who is struggling with her mental health ahead of an opening night. Now on Wednesday, she has told The One Show how difficult preparing for it had been.

What, how, and why?

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Sheridan Smith attends The Olivier Awards 2017 at Royal Albert Hall on April 9, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)
The songs are tricky even for an Olivier Award winner. (WireImage)

As host Alex Jones asked her whether the songs were "ambitious", Smith agreed. She said: "They are. Rufus has got a range like I've never heard - I don't think there's anyone like him, so I'm struggling to get there. But I will get there, and I've been learning the songs for like a couple of months and I've been having singing lessons. He is a genius."

Despite her slew of awards and acclaimed roles, Smith added: "I think it's the biggest role and the biggest challenge I've taken on."

She also debuted new dark hair for her character, saying: "I'm trying to be more grown up! It makes me feel a bit more glamorous."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 04: (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rufus Wainwright attends the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Rufus Wainwright wrote the Opening Night score. (FilmMagic)

Talking about how she planned on dealing with the pressure of eight shows a week, she added: "Before we go on I want the whole company to have a big hug so that we can go into battle, leave everything on the stage, all the emotion and drama, and then when we come off stage I'm just going to blast some music and dance and shake it off."

Smith, who is mum to three-year-old Billy, said that she had been introducing her son to her love of musical theatre by taking him to see Frozen the musical and shared his adorable comments to her when she goes out to work.

She said: "He understands now that I'm going to work because as I'm leaving he's shouting out the window, 'one song today Mummy, then home'."

What else happened The One Show?

Monty Don has no plans to leave Gardeners' World. (BBC)
Monty Don has no plans to leave Gardeners' World. (BBC)

Also making an appearance on Wednesday's show was gardener Monty Don, who had some welcome news for Gardeners' World fans.

Rumours had been swirling that Don was planning on quitting the BBC Two show, but he revealed the truth of his plans.

"It is not true," he confirmed. "Unless I do something terribly wrong, I will be doing it for at least three more years including this year."

The One Show airs on BBC One at 7pm on weekdays.

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