The musical is based on the film The Bodyguard, written by Lawrence Kasdan in 1975 and was the second-highest grossing film of 1992, just behind Aladdin, which is also running in the West End. It is the story of a highly successful singing star who falls prey to a stalker and begins to receive threats saying that her life is in danger. In walks the bodyguard, who at first refuses the job but is persuaded once he discovers the singer has a young kid called Fletcher (Jaden Oshenye), who provides more talent and cuteness than 1,000 acrobatic kittens. The bodyguard not only saves Rachel’s life but saves her attitude, too, as he breaks down the barriers she has built up over the years.
Beverley Knight steps out to announce she is the “Queen of the Night” in the opening number to The Bodyguard. Surrounded by explosive effects, dazzling lighting and an ensemble of unbeatable dancers, Rachel is given an X Factor-style welcome to the stage, with her proud and numerous achievements projected onto a huge screen. But the Queen’s throne could be taken easily as (Rachel John) who plays Rachel’s sister Nicki Marron shares the crown with some outstanding vocals and acting.
The sub-plot of the two sisters battling for the spotlight and the often-scheming Nicki Marron (Rachel John) is directed well by Thea Sharrock, who creates the kind of tensions in relationships needed to bring the audience into the emotions of the characters. The only drawback for any director in this style of show is that pop hits in a musical do not allow for much growth or depth in the piece and only provide for an amazing “concert-style” performance. This musical adaptation is really a celebration of the renowned catalogue of songs sung by Whitney Houston, who played the role of Rachel Marron, in the movie version.
The “Karaoke bar” scene brings great comedic strength as we see Rachel and her bodyguard falling for each other. Frank Farmer (Ben Richards) sings “I will always love you” to the amusement of the whole Karaoke bar – and theatre! Richards plays the bodyguard well but with very few dimensions, but Ben Richards does come to life in the final encore of the show – when the audience are given a send-off and sing-a-long by the whole cast.
The great and crowd-pleasing hits are always welcomed to save the clunky dialogue, which is sometimes corny and creates wry laughter from the audience. The songs are all sung with commitment and with the sublime vocal skill-set of Beverley Knight, including the penultimate number at the end – “I will always love you” – which will amaze and delight.
A big mention to all the ensemble, who create the most amazing dance numbers, acrobatics and a spectacle that brings the most jaded musical theatre-hater out of their seats – well, at least tapping their feet.
The lighting and set design evokes clarity and stillness when needed and then ramps up the pace to 360 degrees for the up-tempo numbers. For a fun night out which will have you singing the hits of Whitney Houston for days after, this show is not to be missed – if only to witness the amazing, uber-talented Beverley Knight.
Booking until January 7, 2017 – Monday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. – Wednesday and Saturday matinees, 3 p.m. Dominion Theatre, W1T 7AQ. www.thebodyguardmusical.com – Two hours, 20 minutes, including Internet. We have tickets from £26 – http://www.theatreperform.entstix.com/tickets/the-bodyguard
Review by Michael Darton.