Sinitta extends Christmas wish ahead of Dubai Opera performance in hit musical Chicago

She spoke to City Times about starring in the renowned show and why she's excited to return to Dubai after a gap of over two decades.



Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied
by

Enid Grace Parker

Published: Wed 22 Dec 2021, 10:24 AM

Last updated: Thu 23 Dec 2021, 9:53 AM

She’s an American-born singer who found fame in the 1980s with catchy hits like Toy Boy, GTO and So Macho, and went on to make a mark in television, appearing on British shows Loose Women, The Xtra Factor and This Morning; she was also a significant part of The X Factor, a reality show which spawned hugely successful musical acts like boyband One Direction and singer Leona Lewis.

While a newer generation may associate the gorgeous Sinitta (who has lived in the United Kingdom for most of her life) only with reality television - it is for her perky, vibrant songs and videos that we love and remember her best, having grown up in 80s and 90s Dubai and been privy to the best of international music on Dubai 92 and Channel 33.

The 58-year-old performer - who began her career as an actress-singer and has West End productions Cats and Little Shop of Horrors to her credit - is now heading to our shores with the award-winning hit musical Chicago, which will make its debut on the Dubai Opera stage on January 5.

An iconic musical

Sinitta has had an amazing run with Chicago in the UK so far, with show venues including Blackpool, Bromley, Southampton, Birmingham and Crawley.

The renowned musical, set in the decadent 20s, is the story of Roxie Hart, a nightclub singer who murders her lover and lands up in prison, but hoodwinks the public, media and her rival cellmate Velma Kelly by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer.

So where does the svelte Sinitta figure in this den of intrigue?

“I play Mama Morton who is the keeper of the key; she’s the boss at the jail and in charge of looking after all the women, but she’s also a bit of a wheeler-dealer. She’s into making money so she’s the one that you need to be friends with to get perks, and make things happen,” she told us in a Zoom conversation.

As Mama Morton, Sinitta also belts out an amazing track, aptly titled When You’re Good to Mama.

She admitted being part of such an iconic show - the longest running American musical on Broadway and the West End - felt “incredible”.

“The music is incredible… we have a live jazz band on stage with us; they are some of the best musicians from the UK who happen to be playing on this tour so I feel so privileged, and it’s really fun to be a part of.

“I enjoy every performance of the show - I’m either in my dressing room listening, or standing on the side of the stage listening to the other numbers because I’m still genuinely enjoying the songs and the music.”

Joy during a pandemic

Talking about reactions to the show, she shared that audience interaction was a treat especially in the wake of the pandemic, when live performances were stalled for almost two years. 
“I think Chicago is such a great show anyway, but after the pandemic and being really starved of live music and entertainment, I think people have come back appreciating it even more.

"And we on stage have been watching the audience almost as much as they’re watching us, because it’s so sweet to see them interacting - nudging each other and laughing together, or singing along and just being excited to be there. People really participate and get involved; we’ve had people who wait for us to come out of the theatre just to tell us how much they’ve enjoyed it so, yes, we’ve had a great reception.”

What is for her the best and most exhilarating part of being on stage and singing live?

“Because I’ve been working in television mostly for the last twenty years or so I’d forgotten what the live connection was really like. It’s such an amazing feeling. I haven’t been on stage for many years and I had forgotten how magical it is… to actually come out and feel like you can touch an audience and that they can touch you, and that you are actually actively creating that moment and are able to tell a story! There’s just no feeling like it.”

Helping budding talent

She’s had quite a varied and interesting career, from appearing on stage, to becoming a pop star and then making your mark in television and reality TV. But what is her first love - is it singing and performing, or assisting talent hunts like The X Factor?

“Do I have to pick one? (laughs) I love performing, and acting. But there is a different kind of satisfaction you get from helping someone else find their path and launch their career. So I’m still tremendously proud, I stand back and I’m looking at (stars like) Alexandra Burke, Leona Lewis, the One Direction boys, Little Mix and it’s incredible to know that I had a small part in it. It’s like watching children grow until their full potential.”

She admitted it was amazing that fans still came up to her with copies of her old singles and albums, sharing their memories.

“It’s lovely. It’s so weird because I still feel the same - I still feel young! But it’s amazing when I meet people - they’ll often come to the theatre with copies of singles or albums of mine that they bought, for me to sign, and I’m looking back at these old pictures and things and thinking ‘wow’, and they’re saying, ‘this is the first record I bought when I was ten years old’ or something like that… and it’s surreal, really.

“But again, it’s lovely that people associate happy memories with my music. It’s a real gift; I was having a good time, I was young and having fun but I didn’t know that it would have a lasting effect.”

Her latest single, I Won’t Be Lonely For Christmas, is sure to resonate with fans as well, a timely tune amidst the pandemic which separated many from their loved ones over prolonged periods.

“I guess it’s really about people making special arrangements to make sure they’re with their loved ones this year, especially with all the unpredictability about travel and the disorientation of the last couple of years because of the pandemic. So it’s just to kick off the celebrations and get people in the Christmas spirit and also really appreciating it, because I think we take a lot for granted and we got caught out last year and the year before.”

Christmas in Dubai

The soft-spoken singer shared her plans for a Christmas in Dubai ahead of performing in the Chicago shows, and sent out a message of “love, peace and happiness” to everyone.

“I will be in Dubai for Christmas, I’m coming out early with my family; I hope it’s going to be amazing and I just can’t wait to get to the theatre! And to meet everyone - I hope they are really going to enjoy the show too.”

It’s been a long time between Dubai visits for Sinitta and she expressed her eagerness to see the changes time and a visionary leadership has brought to the city.

“I haven’t been to Dubai for maybe 20 years or more so I’m sure it’s very different (now). Even then, I literally went to one hotel to do one performance and then out again the next day, so I’m really excited to be able to come and spend more time there as well, and to perform at Dubai Opera.”

Chicago will run from January 5-15 at Dubai Opera. Buy tickets at www.dubaiopera.com


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