Alexandra Burke talks Sister Act, now at the Ipswich Regent
PUBLISHED: 09:51 01 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:51 01 November 2016
Alexandra Burke seems to have cornered the market in playing divas in peril. After around two years as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, she's now playing a second equally iconic character on stage writes John Bultitude.
This time around it’s a lead role that requires a slightly lighter touch in the shape of Deloris Van Cartier, the sassy singer who witnesses a gangland murder and is placed out of harms way in a convent. Thus begins Sister Act, running at the Ipswich Regent until November 5.
Alexandra admits she took a little persuading to bring Deloris to life.
“It was a fantastic opportunity. I didn’t know if I was made for the role. I think it is a confidence thing. I was the same when I was offered The Bodyguard.
“I watched half of the movie and I listened to the soundtrack and it was actually the soundtrack that made me say yes. The songs are just so beautiful and I thought it would be a privilege to sing them,” she said.
The mix of comedy and drama as well as the challenges her character faces made it a role she felt she had to take.
“Deloris is a very interesting character and very different to Rachel... It allows me to even more open than I was playing Rachel and playing this role means I have to just let go and allow myself to trust my instincts. That is always something I have always been afraid to do because I always want to be perfect at everything.”
You expect Alexandra to exude confidence after being at the top of her game for so long. After winning Saturday night’s must-see TV talent show The X Factor in 2008, her debut single Hallelujah became a European record holder for single sales in 24 hours - shifting a massive 105,000 copies.
Concert tours, hit albums and West End success followed, but with it came a hugely strong work ethic to ensure every aspect of her performance is spot on.
She’s keen to not just copy the iconic performance of Whoopi Goldberg in the movie version of Sister Act.
“I always want to put my own spin and my own interpretation on anything that I do because everyone has different ways of bringing a character out of them regardless of what role they are playing. In fact, I have deliberately not watched the whole movie.”
One of her great joys is being able to perform the songs which fuse a Motown influence with a strong gospel base.
“I would say it is more of the gospel aspect that is appealing to me and just being able to be un-restricted in what I do. The creative team is allowing me to take the journey and do whatever happens naturally. There are no restrictions which is great and we are able to just be ourselves and just sing.”
That steep learning curve is being helped by a strong camaraderie among the company with some top West End performers joining her in the show including Rosemary Ashe, who plays Sister Mary Lazarus, and has a CV encompassing some of the biggest shows in the West End including Phantom Of The Opera, Les Misérables, The Witches of Eastwick, Mary Poppins and Oliver!
Alexandra said: “I am learning so much and it is great to soak in everyone else’s characters. Everyone brings a different energy. Every day is different because we are all discovering loads of different things. What I also see with this team is everyone supports each other. It is a very loving and family-oriented type of vibe. Everyone is there for each other and there are no egos.”
Above all, she is still excited to be winning roles like this more than eight years after winning public acclaim through The X Factor.
“I feel very fortunate to still be working hard for what I want in life. It is a privilege to be offered these kinds of roles and they are very iconic roles.
“I have learned so much over the past couple of years, especially doing The Bodyguard and now Sister Act. It is also hard work keeping the energy up when you are doing lots of shows in a week. I have a major respect for people who do theatre. I don’t think people realise how hard it is if they don’t experience it.”
There is a downside to touring as Alexandra admits she misses loved ones.
“I do the touring because I want to play the role. What makes it great is performing and nothing else can give me that feeling when I come off stage. I just hope I can make people laugh, cry and smile when they see the performance more than anything.
“It is also fantastic to have so much fan support. I am very grateful and it is overwhelming getting such support from them. I have a good grounding as well from my family and friends that help me take care of me and they are always there for me.”
Read our review here.