Based on the 1992 film of the same name and starring Alexandra Burke and Stuart Reid, The Bodyguard is the story of a pop diva, Rachel Marron, who receives threats from a stalker, leading her managers to employ Frank Farmer, former Secret Service agent and the best bodyguard in the business.
His aloof and professional approach initially causes him to clash with the headstrong singer, but as they work together, they get closer and closer; as does the threat from her obsessive fan.
Any actress taking on this role has some big shoes to fill, as the comparisons to Whitney Houston are impossible to avoid. Whilst her acting was not the best that has ever graced a stage, Alexandra Burke was clearly drafted in for a reason, and was able to hit the spot as she belted out a number of the shows more demanding and iconic songs. “I Have Nothing” and “One Moment In Time” were incredibly well performed and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” was great fun. But the song everyone was waiting for was “I Will Always Love You”, and Burke didn’t disappoint with her superb rendition. Had these big numbers been mishandled, then it would have spoilt the whole show, but there was no danger of that; and Burke was clearly at her most comfortable on stage when she was doing what she does best. Looking at the list of musical numbers in the show, there was a slight initial anxiety that we were about to watch “Whitney – The Musical”, but the actual integration of the songs with the story worked well.
Sitting comfortably between film adaptation and jukebox musical, the show looked professional, polished and relatively slick, with some bold, colourful and energetic production numbers, good sets and lighting and a decent pace. The narrative followed the basic plot of the film although it did depart from the source material in a number of places, providing a watered down version of the story. There were some flaws in the production; including some times when the scene changing became slightly intrusive; but primarily as a result of some rather wooden acting all round which served to provide rather flat characterisations (although standing out from the crowd was Melissa James, as Nicki Marron, whose singing range was vast and whose interpretations of the ballads were beautiful) But despite these issues, The Bodyguard does exactly what it sets out to do, and that is entertain.
With a good selection of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, one of the best looking dance ensembles ever put together and some slick presentation The Bodyguard’s running time flew by and proved to be two hours of hugely enjoyable escapism and a real crowd-pleaser. The songs themselves are classic, the musical performances are very good and the whole thing was a real feel-good production that I would happily revisit.
The Bodyguard is current at Sheffield Theatres until 7th November 2015 before continuing on its national tour at various locations around the country until June 2016 (http://www.thebodyguardmusical.com/ )