Interview with Alexandra Burke ahead of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
The brand-new smash-hit London Palladium production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is coming to The Grand Opera House in October!
Starring Alexandra Burke and Jac Yarrow, the show features songs that have gone on to become pop and musical theatre classics, including Any Dream Will Do, Close Every Door To Me, There’s One More Angel In Heaven and Go, Go, Go Joseph.
Interview with Alexandra Burke
What can audiences expect when they come to see the show?
They’re in for a massive treat. It’s such a vibrant, colourful and exciting show that you can’t help wanting to join in with the songs, clap along or get up and dance at the end. It’s a feel-good show and that’s why I love it. We’ve all been through so much in the past couple of years, we need shows like this out on the road that bring people so much love and joy.
You’re returning to the role of The Narrator, having played her at the London Palladium last summer. What do you most enjoy about the role?
The Narrator is such fun. It’s an important role because she’s telling the story, along with Joseph and Pharaoh and the rest of the cast, but I’m quite giddy when I play her. It’s the only role I’ve done so far where I’ve felt I can just be myself. What people are seeing on stage is really just me - my personality shining through because I’m quite a goofy person and I play her in quite a goofy way. What you see is me having a laugh on stage, telling a beautiful story and singing some lovely tunes.
How is it working with the kids in the show?
I had a really special connection with the kids at The Palladium and I have another special connection with the kids on this tour. I sit and talk with them because I want them to feel like they’re my friends and we’ve all bonded. It’s funny because unlike a lot of people I didn’t grow up knowing Joseph at school but I wish I had. My mum worked very hard to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table and theatre was not something that we had the opportunity to enjoy. I get quite sad because all these kids know the musical word-for-word and it’s so beautiful to see that, but I was the only one who walked into the theatre going ‘I’m new to this musical’ because I’d never learnt it at school. It’s been an insight for me to see how many people love it, across the audience as well as the cast. They also know it word-for-word so you cannot muck up on this show because the audience are so familiar with it.
So you’d never seen the show as an adult either?
No, I hadn’t, and when they offered to show me some of the archive footage I chose not to watch it because I wanted to learn it from scratch and bring my own interpretation to it. I decided not to watch what Sheridan Smith had done in the role or anyone previously simply because I wanted to put my own spin on it all.
The West End production was one of the first to open to full capacity after Covid restrictions. What was the atmosphere like?
It was such a special feeling. Speaking on behalf of everyone who was part of the production, to not be doing what you love for a long time and then suddenly being able to perform to a full audience is a feeling money can’t buy. It was a special moment for us to see all those faces, even though of course they were wearing masks. To feel the energy from the audience and know that they were enjoying it made it such an incredible experience. I don’t think any of us will ever take a moment of performing for granted again.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice score is full of great songs. Do you have a favourite to perform?
The opening number, Prologue (Some Folks Dream), is one of my favourites simply because of the message behind it. It’s telling kids to find their dreams and just go for it, and it’s just me and the kids performing it. It’s an important message to put out there, not just for the kids but for adults as well.
How is it working with Jason Donovan as Pharaoh and Jac Yarrow as Joseph?
Jason is one of the most amazing performers I’ve ever met. He’s so down-to-earth and such a gentleman, with a really good energy that’s great to be around. He has such an infectious personality and I absolutely adore him. He’s a very special man. And we love Jac! If anyone asked me if there’s a perfect Joseph out there I’d say ‘Yes there is and it’s Jac Yarrow’. He’s a beautiful human being with a great spirit, a great singer and a wonderful performer. He’s a very talented young man who is going to go very far.
Joseph is a big contrast to The Bodyguard, which you toured in a couple of years ago. Was that part of the appeal?
Yes it was, then I found out there hadn’t been many black Narrators and that was the selling point for me. I thought ‘I want to be that representation for young black girls to be able to see themselves in that role’. One of the kids in the show last year said ‘So I can be The Narrator one day when I grow up too?’ She was a young black girl and it blew my mind that she’d gotten some inspiration from me doing the role. That was the key thing for me - being part of an iconic show and representing people of colour.
What have been your other favourite roles on stage? [Laughs] I’m sorry but there hasn’t been one I haven’t liked. I’ve been lucky enough to do Sister Act, Chess, Chicago, The Bodyguard - and all of them have been the most amazing experience. I’m not a trained actor or theatre performer, yet I’ve been blessed to have been given such fantastic opportunities. And I’ve loved every director I’ve worked with. I’ve learned so much from them, I’m like a little sponge who soaks up everything.
You came to fame on The X Factor but was theatre always part of the plan?
It’s been more of a nice, happy accident if I’m honest with you. I never, ever thought about doing theatre after X Factor because my mind was so set on music. I was only meant to do three months in The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre and that turned into five years of non-stop theatre work. And gosh, it’s been wonderful! Music will always be my number one but it’s been amazing to be able to train my voice in a different way and build up my stamina. While recording what will be my forth studio album I’ve realised that I’m more confident with my singing than ever before and I put that down to all the incredible roles I’ve played over the last seven years. You don’t know hard work until you’ve done ten shows a week. I take my hands off to ensemble members as well because they do so much work sometimes across multiple roles whereas I’ve just got one role to concentrate on.
What are you most looking forward to about taking Joseph around the country?
When you tour you get to meet so many new people and to visit places you don’t usually go to. It opens up your mind and your heart. I’m also going back to lots of cities and theatres I’ve been to before, and it’ll be lovely to see all the people I already know who work there backstage and front-of-house and shout for joy “we are back!!!”.
The tour calls at Belfast. Does it have any significance for you?
I love Belfast. I’ve got great friends there so it holds a special place in my heart. I’ve already done the Titanic Belfast museum and this time I want to do the Game Of Thrones tour.
Tickets available at https://www.goh.co.uk/whats-on/joseph-and-the-amazing-technicolor-dreamcoat/