REVIEW: THE BODYGUARD, THE MUSICAL
The Bristol Hippodrome
Wednesday 13th – Saturday 30th January 2016
The latest musical to grace the stage of the Bristol Hippodrome is The Bodyguard, based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 Oscar nominated Warner Brothers film, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. I decide that, before going to the theatre, the husband and I should do some homework, so we sit down to watch the film. It’s the first time I’ve seen it can you believe? Afterwards we’re very much looking forward to the press evening at The Bristol Hippodrome, and wonder how the screenplay might translate from film to stage.
Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge but what they don’t expect is to fall in love. A romantic thriller, The Bodyguard features classics including Queen of theNight, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, I’m Your BabyTonight, Run to You, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – I Will Always Love You.
Three-time Brit nominee and X-Factor winner, Alexandra Burke performs the leading role of ‘Rachel Marron’ at all evening performances. Alexandra rose to fame after winning the fifth series of The X Factor. Her debut number one single Hallelujah sold over one million copies in the UK, which was a first for a British female soloist. At the matinée performances, Rachel Marron will be played by Zoe Burkett, probably best known as the highest placing female contestant in ITV’s Pop Idol in 2002.
The Bodyguard Review
The show starts with a bang, quite literally, as the sound of a gun shot gets everyone’s attention. This is followed by a fast paced sequence including a film montage of Rachel Marron’s awards and a powerful opening number, Queen of the Night. Lasers light up all around us as we feel the vibrations of the pounding music and the heat of the flames flaring up at the front of the stage. The atmosphere is electric!
Whitney Houston had one of the best, if not the best female voice I’ve ever heard. Watching the film I kept being reminded of just how beautiful it was and realised that Alexandra would have her work cut out for her if she was going to try to compare to such an icon but it becomes apparent quite quickly that she doesn’t simply mimic Whitney. She takes the songs and adapts them to her own rich, deep, husky vocal style. Her singing seems effortless, in fact I have the impression she has to rein in the full power of her voice during quieter numbers in which she displays a tender intimacy. I really enjoy her acting and find quite quickly that I stop comparing the two women as Alexandra becomes a very different Rachel Marron to Whitney’s version.
The scenery is effective and fairly simple but there are a couple of quite unusual effects – I like how they change the scene or split the stage into two different scenes by sliding across one side of a large door.
After the intensity of the highly charged opening, I find the club scene disappointing. I’m looking forward to seeing their interpretation of Whitney’s stunning silver outfit from the film, but Alexandra’s pretty silver top coupled with stretch black trousers and trainers is lacking the wow factor. Elsewhere in the show she wears some fabulous costumes so I’m don’t know why they made this one so underwhelming.
I’m pleased to see some larger ladies amongst the dancers. What a breath of fresh air!
There are quite a few laughs, particularly during the karaoke scenes and in the encore. I’m not sure why, but there are also outbursts of laughter at seemingly inappropriate moments which feels a tad Rocky Horror. Maybe I’m missing something – let me know if you know something I don’t!
The brief nod to “An Officer and gentleman” is very popular and calls for a big audience yelp.
We watch the show child-free and I’m quite happy about that. There’s a sprinkling of bad language like “shit” and “pain in the balls” but the part which could give kids nightmares, is when Rachel’s young son Fletcher is in danger and the word DIE is daubed in red onto his bedroom wall. I’m also uncomfortable when a gun is momentarily pointed at his head before he’s given it hold and play around with.
My boys would have enjoyed the acrobatics and break dancing and my nine year old would have been very jealous to see another kid doing a back flip on stage! He’s recently loved playing the acrobat in our local panto and I know he would have loved seeing Fletcher’s moves.
There are many similarities to the film but there are also some major deviations. Alexandra Burke is not a Whitney copycat but she makes the role her own.
The I will Always Love You scene is a highlight of the show, both visually, with the aid of a rising plinth and lashings of dry ice as well as being the perfect song to show off Alexandra’s voice to the full, but I think my favourite part of the whole show might be the ‘party’ right at the end where glitter balls, lights, acrobats and singing by the non-singers combine to make a really fun end to the show.
Cast and Credits
Joining Alexandra Burke as Rachel Marron and Zoe Burkett as the alternate Rachel Marron will be: Stuart Reid as Frank Farmer, Melissa James as Nicki Marron, Mensah Bediako as Bill Devaney, Adam Venus as Sy Spector, Siôn Lloyd as Tony, Mike Denmanas The Stalker and Glen Fox as Ray Court.
The rest of the company includes Jade Albertsen, Omari Bernard, Edward Clarke, Jamal Crawford, Lisa Darnell, Kieran Donovan, Lydia Fraser, Lucia Gonzalez, Jamie-Ray Hartshorne, Annie Kitchen, Oliver Roll, Sophie Usher, Matthew Wesley, Emmy Willow and Mark Willshire.
Wednesday 13th – Saturday 30th January 2016
Evening performances at 7.30 pm. Matinees on Thu & Sat @ 2.30 pm
Tickets from £18.50
Online and phone bookings also carry a transaction fee of £4 (excluding ATG Theatre Card and Groups 10+)
Concessions available at certain performances
ATG Tickets: 0844 871 3012
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DISCLOSURE: WE RECEIVED TICKETS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW.
ALL OPINIONS ARE MY/OUR OWN.