Singer Alexandra Burke talks to Charlotte Harding about recording new music and embarking on her latest musical adventure.
Ask someone about the films The Bodyguard or Sister Act and chances are their first response will be Whitney Houson or Whoopi Goldberg.
Two iconic actors who played two very memorable characters - Whitney’s Rachel Marron and Whoopi’s Deloris Van Cartier.
So taking on a role like that in the subsequent musicals must have been a very daunting task, not so it seems for singing sensation Alexandra Burke.
“I haven’t seen either of the films,” she reveals.
“When I got the roles I decided not to watch the films as I didn’t want to have someone else in my head as I played the character, I wanted to put my own spin on it.”
Alexandra has spent the last two years playing Rachel in a UK tour of The Bodyguard before heading straight into rehearsals for Sister Act.
“I had about five days off in between,” Alexandra says. “I spent a lot of time going home and seeing family.
“It was hard though as I was learning the script for Sister Act when I was still in The Bodyguard. I wanted to be off script by the time I got to rehearsals but I found it difficult doing both.
“Thankfully though when we started no one was off script so we all went through learning it together which was nice.”
Although it is clear five days isn’t ideal the singer admits she couldn’t say no to the opportunity of playing Deloris, a disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder and is placed under protective custody in a Convent.
“For me the timing just worked out and as soon as I read the script I knew I wanted to play her,” she smiles.
“Deloris is such a great, fun character and I’m really loving performing the music.”
The show features original music by the eight time Oscar and Tony award winner Alan Menken, whose credits include the films and stage musicals of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Tangled, as well as the stage production of Little Shop of Horrors.
And this all new production of Sister Act is directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, best known as the hard-to-please judge on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
“I met Craig while I was in Norwich touring and we talked about the character and his vision,” she recalls.
“He is really in love with the show and that passion makes you excited about it as well.
“He can be quite strict though and hasn’t let us off with the choreography, but if I had the opportunity to work with him again I would.”
Keeping fit while touring is something that is important to the star as she says she needs stamina for all the performances.
“I go to the gym a lot when I’m touring and I am on Slimfast,” she explains.
“When I was touring with The Bodyguard it was easy to get into bad habits but it is easier with the Slimfast, I have a shake at breakfast and dinner and a heavy lunch to get me through to the end of the show.”
Although she admits she loves what she does and performing for people the singer is less keen about touring.
“I don’t like being away from my family,” she says.
“I love putting a smile of people’s faces but I hate touring.
“It is hard as we are in places for about a week which isn’t very long so you don’t have time to settle and it is hard to live out of a suitcases.”
Most people will recognise Alexandra as the winner of the X-Factor in 2008 when her winner’s song of the late Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was Christmas number one.
Her last album ‘Heartbreak on Hold’ came out in 2012, and in May 2015 Alexandra released her self funded EP ‘Renegade’ but it seems fans keen for a full album may not have long to wait.
“I have been working on it since 2014,” she reveals. “I am still working on it now.
“I have been recording it as I go, so I have been recording a song in the day and then doing a show in the evening, hopefully it will be out at the end of 2017.”
Back to musicals Alexandra is keen to take opportunities as they come but is there a theatre role she has her eye on?
“I would love to do Les Mis,” she smiles. “I did it as a one off for Children in Need once and I loved it so much it would be great to do that show as it is so epic.
“But at the moment I am loving playing Deloris, it is just a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying it.”
Sister Act comes to the Brighton Centre on January 11 until the 14.
Where Alexandra Burke will be performing the Saturday matinee and all evening performances. At the midweek matinee the role of Deloris will be played by Joanna Francis.
For tickets visit either sisteractuktour.co.uk or call 0844 847 1515
For more information on Alexandra you can visit her website, alexandraburkeofficial.com
Charlotte interviewed Alexandra for January’s etc Magazine