BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Alexandra Burke and her amazing technicolor dreamcoat 

Chart-topping singer Alexandra Burke, who has carved out a career as a stage star, has been picked to play the Narrator in the musical Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Her casting marks her London Palladium debut. But more significantly, it is the first time a black performer has taken on the role: a sort of master of ceremonies, guiding us through the Old Testament tale that was turned into an enjoyable romp back in the 1960s by a youthful Andrew Lloyd Webber (only 19) and Tim Rice (just 23).

Burke, 32, has never seen the show, but knows the music well. ‘I’m going to bring a soulful vibe to it, and just be me,’ she said during a Zoom call this week.

Chart-topping singer Alexandra Burke, who has carved out a career as a stage star, has been picked to play the Narrator in the musical Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Chart-topping singer Alexandra Burke, who has carved out a career as a stage star, has been picked to play the Narrator in the musical Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Chart-topping singer Alexandra Burke, who has carved out a career as a stage star, has been picked to play the Narrator in the musical Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

She admitted to being hesitant when producer Michael Harrison approached her — even though the two have worked together in the past, when she headlined The Bodyguard and Sister Act. ‘I asked if a black woman had ever done it before.’

Her friend, actress Mazz Murray, urged her to take it. However, one important voice was missing: her mother Melissa Bell, the singer and Soul II Soul member, who passed away in 2017. Burke said she felt certain her mum would have told her to haul herself ‘onto that stage’.

‘She was so fierce, an unbelievable woman who raised four kids alone and held down a career. God may have taken her at 53, but I do believe she was an angel on earth.’

Joseph will run at the Palladium from July 1 until September 5, with Jac Yarrow in the title role and Jason Donovan — a distinguished Joseph himself, back in his heartthrob days — as a hip-swivelling, Elvis Presley-channelling Pharaoh. The two actors played a sell-out season in 2019, with Sheridan Smith as Narrator.

Jason Donovan (Pharaoh), Jac Yarrow (Joseph) and Sheridan Smith (Narrator) during the curtain call of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' in 2019

Jason Donovan (Pharaoh), Jac Yarrow (Joseph) and Sheridan Smith (Narrator) during the curtain call of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' in 2019

Jason Donovan (Pharaoh), Jac Yarrow (Joseph) and Sheridan Smith (Narrator) during the curtain call of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ in 2019

Burke wasn’t taken to the theatre as a child, because her mother was too busy raising her family; and working. She’d often accompany her to her gigs, though; something which installed a sense of discipline in the woman who went on to triumph on The X Factor.

She saw her first show, The Lion King, when she was 18. The black cast was a revelation. ‘I was like: ‘Oh … we do this!’

Burke went on to play Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard for three months at the Adelphi, and on repeated UK tours.

Last June she uploaded a passionate 15-minute video on Instagram, in which she spoke of the racism she faced from within the music industry. 

Pictured: Alexandra Burke (Rachel Marron) and Carole Stennett (Nicki Marron) in 'The Bodyguard' in 2014

Pictured: Alexandra Burke (Rachel Marron) and Carole Stennett (Nicki Marron) in 'The Bodyguard' in 2014

Pictured: Alexandra Burke (Rachel Marron) and Carole Stennett (Nicki Marron) in ‘The Bodyguard’ in 2014

She hadn’t intended to post it. ‘I reckon it was my mum going: ‘Speak your truth, woman!’,’ she joked.

‘Since doing it, though, I’ve never felt so free,’ she admitted. ‘Like a weight lifting off my shoulders.’

Burke described herself as ‘single by choice’ at the moment — though she’s hardly alone. I could hear her four dogs — a Yorkshire terrier, Chihuahua, Pomeranian and miniature goldendoodle — making a commotion in the background. 

Pets apart, she said she has ‘zero distractions’, but is ‘open to meeting Mr Right’.

  •  For ticket information go to josephthemusical.com  

The stars come out to play

Constellations — Nick Payne’s gorgeous play about how we can discover the love of our lives in ‘the quantum multiverse’ — is heading back to the West End.

And perhaps it’s written in the stars that Michael Longhurst, who first directed the show back in 2012 at the Royal Court with Rafe Spall and Sally Hawkins, should be staging it again.

The Donmar Warehouse, where Longhurst is now artistic chief, is being refurbished (and an air filtering system installed) and is closed until the autumn.

So, instead, the Vaudeville will become the Donmar’s home for Constellations from June 18 until September 12 — with a quartet of couples performing in repertory as Roland (a beekeeper) and Marianne (an academic specialising in early universe cosmology). 

Pictured: Ivanno Jeremiah

Pictured: Ivanno Jeremiah

Pictured: Sheila Atim

Pictured: Sheila Atim

Constellations — Nick Payne’s gorgeous play about how we can discover the love of our lives in ‘the quantum multiverse’ — is heading back to the West End. Pictured: Ivanno Jeremiah and Sheila Atim

Pictured: Peter Capaldi

Pictured: Peter Capaldi

Pictured: Zoe Wanamaker

Pictured: Zoe Wanamaker

The season will feature Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who) and Zoe Wanamaker (My Family)

The season, which has 500 free tickets for those under 26; and 5,000 seats under £20, begins with Ivanno Jeremiah (Humans) and Sheila Atim (soon to be seen in the phenomenal Amazon Prime series The Underground Railroad). 

They’ll be followed by Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who) and Zoe Wanamaker (My Family); Omari Douglas (It’s A Sin) and Russell Tovey (Years And Years); and Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd) and Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland). 

All eight actors are ‘vibrant, funny and quicksilver in their own way,’ said Longhurst, adding that the multi-cast model offered him a wealth of possibilities. 

Pictured: Omari Douglas

Pictured: Omari Douglas

Pictured: Russell Tovey

Pictured: Russell Tovey

Omari Douglas (It’s A Sin) and Russell Tovey (Years And Years) will also appear in the show

Pictured: Anna Maxwell Martin

Pictured: Anna Maxwell Martin

Pictured: Chris O'Dowd

Pictured: Chris O'Dowd

All eight actors are ‘vibrant, funny and quicksilver in their own way,’ said Longhurst, adding that the multi-cast model offered him a wealth of possibilities. Pictured: Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd

And as it is only 70 minutes long, it will enable them to do 11-12 socially distanced shows a week, which may help the Donmar — and co-producers Eleanor Lloyd and Wessex Grove — break even.

Donmar Members can use their priority booking privileges on April 13 from 10am.

Friends level can book on April 14 from 9am online; 10am via telephone (0330 333 4814).

Public booking from April 16; 9am for online and 10am on the phone- 0330 333 4814.

  • Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah dates are June 18 – August 1.
  • Peter Capaldi and Zoe Wanamaker: June 23 – July 24.
  • Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey: July 30 – September 11.
  • Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd: August 6 – September 12.

Long before Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel (prior to partnering up with Oliver Hardy) made the world laugh out loud, the two funnymen shared a voyage from Liverpool to New York, along with the Fred Karno music hall players.

Charlie & Stan, created by the Told By An Idiot troupe and directed by Paul Hunter, is an inventive recounting of the less- than-harmonious relationship between the two men.

Producer David Pugh is taking it on the road, with stops at the Theatre Royal Bath (from July 14) and the picturesque, open-air Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, Penzance (from August 1), before further touring and hitting the West End. Bookings for Bath from April 19 (theatreroyal.org.uk); and the Minack from Monday (minack.com).

Morfydd Clark, who definitely should have been a best actress contender in Sunday’s EE British Academy Film Awards for the movie Saint Maud, is at least nominated in the EE Rising Star category alongside Bukky Bakray (Rocks), Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night In Miami), Sope Dirisu (His House) and Conrad Khan (County Lines). You can vote until midday today via ee.co.uk/BAFTA. 

Link hienalouca.com

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