The Bodyguard

3
Thu, 28th Mar 19
Touring production seen in Bristol.

This production literally begins with a 'bang' , flames and a lighting set which cleverly re-creates a stadium style stage. It's quickly populated with dancers and becomes the backdrop for a spectacular entrance by Rachel Marron (Alexandra Burke) singing All at Once. Closely aligned to the 1992 film plot, the show follows the fortunes of Rachel in her attempt to win an Oscar while under the protection of her bodyguard Frank Farmer (Benoit Marechal) against an unknown stalker (Phil Atkinson). Subtle additions such as mobile phone selfies and Instagram posts help bring the storytelling up-to-date.

The staging is inventive and there are some stand out moments. It's never easy to adapt a cinema classic to the stage; this production is saved by the popularity of the music and the inventiveness of an excellent production team (credit to Howard Eaton Lighting) – shadow projection and several slow-motion scenes really help to bring a cinematic experience to the stage. And, of course it's packed with Whitney Houston's greatest hits (including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, I'm Every Woman, Run to You, Saving All My Love).

Personally, I found acting and characterisation somewhat lacking, almost wooden in some cases. The first half of the first Act lacked pace, despite some excellent vocal performances, notably Micha Richardson as Nicky Marron. As Frank Farmer, Benoit Marechal's accent unfortunately compromises delivery of his lines and resulted in a rather flat performance. Ms Burke gave a rounded performance which was punctuated with great singing, dance and genuine showmanship as Marron on tour. With such well known songs it's rarely possible to match the power and performance of the original artist but overall the orchestration and musical adaptation was excellent.

In Act 2 the show certainly gathered pace, there was more energy in the performances and therefore it was more enjoyable. At the curtain call many in the audience were standing, singing and dancing in the aisles.

If you love Whitney Houston and have a free evening you would certainly enjoy the experience.

Paula Luke


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