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Julie Atherton On ... Sister Act

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Julie Atherton is perhaps best known for originating the roles of Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut in the UK production of Avenue Q. She has also starred in Mamma Mia!, Fame and The Last Five Years. She has also released two solo albums and embarked on promotional tours. She is currently playing Sister Mary Robert in the hit musical Sister Act which tours to Manchester in September. We caught up with her to find out why she stepped into the habit.

What attracted you to the show? Had you seen it in London?
I never got chance to see it in London but I knew the song "Life I Never Led' and loved it. Just the chance to sing that song was attractive really.

It's based on the film but the songs are written for the piece. Was that a draw?
Definitely. Alan Menken is a genius and knows exactly how to pull a heart string. Original music makes it different from the film and surely that's more exciting...otherwise just watch the film!

There are very few musicals around at the moment with such strong parts for so many women. What's it like to perform with so many females?
You'd think it would be a nightmare with so many women in one space but I love my sisters so much. We're all really close and that's such a comfort when you are away from home.

What's your favourite song in the show?
That's a tough one...I'm a sucker for a ballad so it would have to be "Sister Act." "Life I Never Led" WAS my favourite until I had to sing it 8 shows a week! Ha!

Many criticise the rise on film to stage adaptations as lazy. What are your thoughts?
I agree that a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon but if it's a good story then it's bound to work. As long as its done well and with imagination then why not?

Are there any favourite movies of yours that you feel would lend themselves well to the stage?
Not really. I still think we should be pushing for brand new work for the theatre.

What's been the funniest mishap to occur on the tour so far?
My zip broke in the finale leaving everything exposed at the back, so I had to do the whole number facing the front so that no one got a glimpse of a half naked nun!

You are also a recording artist and there's been lots of talk about Kerry Ellis going on The Voice and others on Superstar. Would you go onto one of these shows?
I personally wouldn't go on one of these shows but I don't want to take anything away from Kerry who I thought handled herself very well.

Lastly, with everyone tightening their belts, what can Sister Act offer a theatre goer?
It's funny, it's slick, it's got heart and you get to hear all the nuns belt they're little wimples off!!!

Julie Atherton was speaking to Glenn Meads

Sister Act is at the Manchester Opera House from 25 September - 5 October.


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