HALLELUJAH! 2008 X Factor winner Alexandra Burke returns to the role of Rachel Marron, in the smash hit musical The Bodyguard, just in time for its two-week run at The Playhouse.
“I haven’t done the show for the last three weeks and I’m looking forward to it,” says the 27-year-old. “I took time off to do various different things, one was my show at the Jazz Cafe in London.
“It was absolutely tremendous and such a good feeling to be doing my own songs again after so long, but I found I really missed doing this.”
The Bodyguard, based on the 1992 movie starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, tells the story of former Secret Service agent, Frank Farmer.
Hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker, each expects to be in charge, what they don’t expect is to fall in love...
The musical, which opened on Broadway before transferring to London’s West End, features the classics tracks One Moment in Time, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and, of course, I Will Always Love You.
Burke admits that being a fan of the film and the show, she actually turned the role down twice before finally being convinced to accept it by her manager who called her bluff.
“I turned down the role when they offered it to me two and a half years ago, and again when they offered me it last year,” she says.
“Then earlier this year, when I was offered it for the third time, I said to my manager, ‘I don’t think I can do this role. Tell them no.’
“He literally looked at me and said, ‘You know, you’re right. This role is way too big for you.’
“I went, ‘Sorry...’ and just flipped. I said, ‘You tell them yes.’
“I was determined then to do the show, even though I didn’t think I was able to do six shows a week. God has shown me otherwise.
“And I have a very good manager,” she laughs. “I’m now really proud of this show.”
Following the likes of Houston, Broadway star Heather Headley and Grammy award-winning Beverly Knight in the role could have proved nerve-wracking for the singer, but for the fact that Burke’s approach found her focussing on “doing the songs justice and avoiding complacency.”
“I never say I am stepping into anyone’s shoes,” she says.
“Heather Headley is renowned for being a musical star - I saw her do it twice because The Bodyguard is actually one of my favourite films. I’m a massive fan.
“I think Heather is amazing. Same with Bev, but I would never say I am trying to be like anyone else, this is just my interpretation of the role of Rachel Marron as a 27-year-old.
“It’s important for me to do a bit of everything. I learn so much and it is always such a pleasure to perform alongside this wonderful company and cast.”
The show does have its challenges, however.
“Performing six times a week can have its ups and downs and I say a massive prayer before I walk on the stage,” she reveals, adding, “and I never take it for granted. That’s how I get through every show.”
At the Playhouse, ex-Pop Idol contestant Zoe Birkett will play the role at matinee performances.
Candidly, Burke confides there is still one moment in the production that she dreads.
“I have one change that happens on stage every night, just before I sing I’m Every Woman. That’s the only one that gets me.
“I have to strip down to my bra and my knickers and it is just embarrassing.
“I’m never sure if someone will see something, but I’ve got good people around me and the change is very quick.”
That change leads to the shows spectacular finale, which finds Burke belting out all the classics... usually with accompaniment from the audience, whether she wants it or not.
“I’ve learned to blank that out but it’s nice to know everyone is so much into the show. What matters is that they go home having enjoyed it.
“We only use five or six songs from the soundtrack of the film, but those songs are classic numbers. That’s the attraction. People want to hear these songs again.
“They have grown up with that movie and the songs remind them of where they were in 1992 when they first saw it.
“Everyone has a different story. It’s amazing how many people come up to me and say, ‘When this movie came out I had my first child,’ or, ‘When this movie came out I was pregnant for the first time’.
“It’s exciting to hear the memories that go with this show.”
The Bodyguard, Playhouse, Greenside Place, until 10 October, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £18.50-£57.50, 0844-71 3014