Former Secret Service agent, Frank Farmer is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge – what they don’t expect is to fall in love…
Full disclosure, I have never seen the movie version of The Bodyguard on which the show is based so this was my very first encounter with the story and wow what a spectacular it was. I had an almost perfect seat in the completely sold out theatre – six rows back from the stage and right in the middle meaning I could take in everything at once and there was a lot to take in. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the show opening with an incredibly loud bang that set my heart racing and blinding lights for the duration of the first number simulating a pop concert more than a theatre performance but once my heart had returned to a normal pace I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Obviously the big draw was Beverly Knight who was playing the lead role of Rachel and is quite clearly a born performer – her vocals are truly incredible and it was a treat to see her perform live but Rachel John in the role of her sister Nicki was also exceptional and I felt had far more acting talent than Knight who was at time stiff and unsure of herself. The rest of the cast was merely adequate in their performances but nothing to write home about.
The storyline was much darker than I thought it would be – originally I had assumed it was simply a love story about a singer falling for her bodyguard but it was so much more than that. It’s actually a dark and gritty tale of a celebrity stalker and the threat feels very real. Not exactly the topic you would expect from a musical but somehow the many Whitney Houston songs that are littered throughout never once feel out-of-place.
Clever set design gives the show an almost cinematic feel – I’m assuming here that they’re trying to recreate some of the magic from the film version but having not seen it I can’t be sure – and I particularly loved the moving shutters that allowed us to focus on different parts of the staging. The video montage of the blossoming relationship between Rachel and her bodyguard however was rather cheesy and it’s purpose lost on me to be honest.
But of course everyone was there for the music and it was hard to stop myself from singing along. The standing ovation the cast received at the end was well deserved and it felt more like being at a very civilised gig rather than the theatre. The producers clearly know their audience well with the addition of the encore number “I wanna dance with somebody” allowing everyone to get up out of their seats and shimmy along which reverberated through my head the entire tube ride home.