Sister Act star Alexandra Burke talks about the UK tour, returning to music and weight loss
http://www.nottinghampost.com/sister-ac ... story.html
The last time Alexandra Burke was in Nottingham was in The Bodyguard playing the lead role made famous by Whitney Houston. And it will be another iconic role for the former X Factor winner when she returns to the city in Sister Act at the Theatre Royal. JESSICA SANSOME spoke to her about that, her amazing weight loss and how she hopes to inspire us
"It's been amazing," says Alexandra about her theatre career which started in The Bodyguard in the West End.
"I have been very lucky to be able to be picked to do such iconic roles. Going from playing Whitney Houston and then now playing Whoopi Goldberg, it's just a massive honour and a privilege really to have these two roles under my belt."
Alexandra first shot to fame after winning the fifth series of The X Factor almost nine years ago. Since then, she's notched up three No. 1 singles, another three Top 3, two Top 10 albums and has performed up and down the country on sell-out tours.
Taking on the iconic role of Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard three years ago wasn't an easy step to take, she admits.
"I was asked to do it years before it went into the West End," she says. "I wasn't ready to do it then."
"But taking it on the second time they asked has opened doors for me, which I am grateful for."
The decision saw her lead the West End production until its close in August 2014, followed by a UK tour in 2015, visiting the Theatre Royal in October.
Performing the songs of the legendary Whitney Houston night after night does come with its pressures.
She says: "Performing somebody else's songs and trying to do them justice isn't easy. Added to that is the acting side of everything.
"It still makes me nervous delivering six, sometimes seven, shows a week and wanting the audience to enjoy it."
When the Sister Act role was offered to her, Alexandra almost turned down the role.
"In the beginning, initially I said no because I just didn't think I was suited to it because it's a comedy and I have never done comedy," she explains.
"But when I read the script and listened to the soundtrack, that's what made me say yes."
The comedy aspect was a challenge she has enjoyed.
"People walk away from the show and actually find me funny - that is the best thing in life," she laughs.
"I didn't think that's what I'd be able to do. So I'm really pleased. I just hope I can keep it up."
Alexandra plays the role of Deloris Van Cartier made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the 90s film. Her life takes an unsuspecting turn after she witnesses a murder.
"It's uplifting, it's joyous, it's fun, of course very, very funny," says Alexandra, who reprised the role for an eight month stint this month after taking on 16 venues with the show last year.
The show, directed and choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing's Craig Revel-Horwood, is "an actor-muso" production due to the performers playing instruments.
"From the moment it opens to the moment it ends, you literally see a massive live band in your face. We are all acting, singing and dancing around the stage. You don't get that every day."
And what has it been like working with Strictly's resident 'Mr Nasty'?
"Oh it's been fantastic," says Alexandra. "He's a great guy. Very strict - no pun intended - but just a real nice guy to be around. He takes his work very seriously. I've been learning a lot from him."
Before the weight loss
Another big part of Alexandra's life is her role as SlimFast ambassador which she began a year ago and unlike other celebrity endorsements, it was Alexandra who made the call to them after her own weight loss success.
"I actually got involved with the brand simply because I had a situation on stage when I was in The Bodyguard and realised I had put on weight," explains Alexandra.
"The most embarrassing thing that could ever happen to an artist is that you don't fit into your clothes and your dresser has to put the biggest safety pin in your dress in order for you to continue on stage. That's exactly what happened to me."
Alexandra's mum recommended SlimFast to her daughter after finding success herself years before
Since starting her SlimFast journey over a year ago, Alexandra has lost 24 lbs and dropped three dress sizes.
"It's definitely given me more energy and more confidence. I'm actually really proud of how I've kept myself in shape through keeping fit and also keeping strict with the plan but of course giving myself some cheat days at times."
To coincide with Alexandra's visit to the city in Sister Act, she plans to inspire others by hosting an intimate, 'by invitation only' event where she will have lunch and chat about weight loss.
"The aim is for me to go out for dinner and just have a nice afternoon chat with them over some food, talk about their journey and ways I can maybe help them," says Alexandra.
It's been almost five years since Alexandra released her second album, Heartbreak on Hold, and amongst all the theatre touring, she has, amazingly, still had time to work on her own music.
"I have been in the studio quite a fair bit whilst I've been doing theatre," she says.
"I'm working on different things at this present time and still hoping to release and album very soon. [The] third album isn't finished yet but it's in the final stages which I'm happy to say out loud. So I will be returning to music, hopefully soon."