Alexandra Burke shines in Sister Act

It is a beloved movie, and with Whoopi Goldberg as the lead, there are some serious shoes to fill. But Alexandra Burke last night proved that not only does she have an incredible voice, but she is also a comic natural as she took on the role of Dolores Von Cartier in ‘Sister Act’ at the Wolverhampton Grand. Directed by Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood, the show was an absolute hoot, a real crowd pleaser with brilliant performances from the whole cast, and non more brilliant that the pocket diva in the lead. Alexandra is Dolores, and Dolores is a total star.

‘Sister Act’ follows the same story as the film. Dolores Von Cartier is waiting for her married lover, nightclub boss and Hoodlum Curtis, to make her a music star in the vein of her heroine Donna Summer. It’s Christmas 1977 and the future looks bright, but then Dolores witnesses Curtis kill one of his fellow hoodlums and flees to the police, meeting an old school friend who is now a cop, ‘sweaty’ Eddie. Dolores is put into a protection in the one place that the police think Calvin would never look, a Catholic church and convent under the care of the Mother Superior. There Dolores first of all struggles, but once put in charge of the choir she finds her true calling. But making the choir a media sensation is not the best idea, and Dolores is soon back in Curtis’s firing line. Will the church and Dolores be saved?

As Dolores, Alexandra Burke is sharp, sassy and oh so funny. A little bird told me that she was afraid she wouldn’t be funny, but she is a comic natural, her timing is perfect, and she can raise laughs from her mannerisms, her looks and gestures, particularly when she is dancing in her nun’s garbs. She has so many standout moments, from telling the Mother Superior how she has prayed for a white fur like Donna Summer, to heading to the local bar with a raft of fellow nuns in tow. Her musical performances are what you would expect from a consummate pop performer, particularly great on ‘Take me to Heaven’ a song which recurs throughout the show and is surely a lost Donna Summer number.

While Alexandra is the star, the supporting roles are pitch perfect too. Karen Mann is funny and likeable as the Mother Superior who just wants things to go back to normal, and has quite a liking for red wine. The Nuns are all brilliant, with Sarah Goggin showing the voice of an angel as Sister Mary Robert, the youngest and most vulnerable of the Sister’s. Aaron Lee Lambert is a suitably villainous Curtis, playing the role firmly tongue-in-cheek as a sort of Barry White/Richard Roundtree from Shaft hybrid, and supported brilliantly by a trio of cartoonish hoodlums Pablo (Ricky Rojas), Joey (Samuel Morgan-Grahame) and TJ (Sandy Grigelis). They bring the house down with their ‘Let’s get it on’ style song ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’ which is hilariously sleezy.

The cast is nicely rounded out by Tim Maxwell Clarke as Monsignor O Hara, a sympathetic, forward thinking character with a taste for disco, and the brilliantly lovely Joe Vetch as Eddie. Shy and nervous, but with a John Travolta fighting to get out, Vetch’s ‘I could be that guy’ is another standout song, with a performance chorused by drunks and down and outs – total madness, very funny.

Sister Act takes all the best of the disco era, the music, the disco balls, Donna Summer, faux fur and FM boots (watch and see), and then combines this with nuns – who knew that would prove to be a perfect combination? The ultimate feelgood story is a musical with a lot of hear and soul, and a whole lot of belly laughs.

Must see.

Sister Act

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Tue 28 Feb – Sat 4 Mar

Click here for Ticket information.

Alexandra Burke is electrifying in The Bodyguard

An electrifying central performance by Alexandra Burke, and fabulous support from the whole ensemble had the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre audience on its feet last night, as The Bodyguard showed why it is one of the best of all modern musicals. From the opening number ‘Queen of the Night’, thrillingly staged with pyrotechnics, to the emotional finale of the classic ‘I will always love you’, this was a polished spectacle with Alexandra in full diva mode in a role she was born to play.

thebodyguard-sq

The story is familiar to anyone who has seen the ultra-popular film which starred the late Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Rachel Marron is a musical superstar, a beautiful diva with the whole world at her feet. Her perfect life is threatened by a pyschopath who is obsessed with her, something her management team have decided to hide from her. They hire the singer a bodyguard, Frank Farmer, (the charasmatic Stuart Reid) to help protect her, but without knowing what is happening, she resents his presence in her life. When she finally realises that she is really in danger, her feelings towards the handsome Farmer change, and a relationship develops. But danger and tragedy are never far away, and the tale takes a tragic turn.

The Bodyguard Queen Of The Night - Photography by Paul Coltas

The Bodyguard Queen Of The Night – Photography by Paul Coltas

In the role of Rachel Marron, Alexandra Burke is simply brilliant. A small lady with a huge stage presence, she makes Marron a compelling character, a feisty diva with a vulnerable and loving side that she reveals as the musical progresses. Her American accent is near faultless, and she performs the songs with verve and style. In particular, her rendition of ‘I will always love you’ is just showstopping. Her natural performers ability make the set pieces where Rachel is meant to be performing live very exciting and exuberant – ‘I’m every woman’ could be a concert performance. She is simply perfect in this role – a true diva.

The Bodyguard Queen Of The Night - Photography by Paul Coltas

The Bodyguard Queen Of The Night – Photography by Paul Coltas

Stuart Reid as Frank Farmer is almost a straight man, solid, dependable foil to Rachel’s glamour and sass. That he makes Frank more three dimensional than Kevin Costner ever did is a credit to his charm and ability, and the fact that he can also send up his singing ability in one of the best scenes (in the kareoke bar) just adds to a performance that had the female half of the audience swooning.

Two other performances also stand out. Melissa James is simply wonderful as the tragic Nikki Marron, the sister who lives in the shadows of a superstar. Her performance of ‘Saving all my love for you’ is spine tingling, whilst the duet of Run to You with Alexandra Burke is my personal highlight of ‘The Bodyguard’ – a heartbreaking ballad sang by two women to the same man. As Fletcher, Jhayheim Davis is a rare child on stage who avoids being sickly saccharine and is instead sweet and enchanting, a real innocent trapped in a deadly situation.

The Bodyguard is wonderful entertainment, never more so that during the Academy Awards scene, when Alexandra belts out one moment in time in a stunning gold gown, one of many exquisite costumes designed by Tim Hateley that are just integral to the joy of losing yourself in what almost feels like a cinematic experience. The sets are also fabulous, with moveable pieces allowing light and shadows to be used as part of the story.

The Bodyguard should not be missed. It is at the Wolverhampton Grand theatre until Saturday 2nd May. Click here for ticket information.

X Factor Fashion – Halloween shockers

Well, there was no Kelly, owing to a cold of Transatlantic proportions, so we got former X Factor winner Alexandra Burke to keep the seat warm. But the looks on display bordered on fright night proportions, with only one outfit really winning the Fashion-Mommy seal of approval. Here are a rundown of  this weeks looks from the judges table.

Tulisa as Catwoman

Tulisa channelled the spirit of Catwoman and Emma  Peel in her form-fitting Catsuit. She looked great, and her figure is amazing, but this was more a costume than an outfit for the most high-profile role in British telly. The catsuit was by Jitrois and definitely left the male audience panting for more, but unless you are going to a fancy dress party as  Marianne Faithfull circa ‘Girl on a motorcycle’, I’d give this a miss.

Get the look…

black-latex-catsuit

heaven sent matte leggings

Alexandra opts for a Cabaret look…(but don’t mention Cabaret…OK.COM)

If Tulisa had  opted for fancy dress, then Alexandra Burke was opting for a more sophisticated look. She wore a black  and white sequin dress that  had me thinking Las Vegas Showgirl, and I hated that she had teamed it with such clumpy boots. Another fail for me.

Get the look…

Miss Selfridge Honeycomb sequin dress

Topshop Knitted sequin dress

Tulisa’s frocky horror

Sunday saw the Tulisa dress up weekend continue, or at least I think she was dressing up. She wore a full length maxi dress that was dark and dramatic in  shades of grey. It reminded me of the sort of gowns worn by witches in pantomimes, and was a strange look that seemed to stun all the social networking sites.Comparisons to Morticia Adams abounded, with others asking if she was taking the Halloween theme just a tad too seriously…

Get the look…

leather bodice print dress

Velvet Maxi Dress By Boutique £165.00

 

Alexandra in Jonathan Saunders…finally..Hurrah!

Finally,there was a dress that I could really admire. Alexandra wore a knockout Jonathan Saunders green and black shift style dress that I adored! With a gorgeous bird print and eye-catching diamond print, this dress was a dream. It took two episodes and three not so good outfits before we finally hit the jackpot.

shadow print shift dress

Trailing oriental printed shift dress