Vivienne Kennedy reviews The Bodyguard, which she watched at Bristol Hippodrome on Thursday 14th January
I shall start with a confession, or rather a series of confessions – I have never seen the film The Bodyguard, on which this musical is based; I was never a huge fan of Whitney Houston and particularly not of “that song”; and I had long stopped watching X Factor by series five, when Alexandra Burke emerged as the winner.
That all means that I arrived at Bristol Hippodrome on Thursday 14th January with no prior knowledge of the show’s storyline and no particular expectations.
The show starts in spectacular fashion, a film clip introducing the lead character, Rachel Marron, a hugely successful singer, played by the aforementioned Alexandra Burke (stepping into the shoes of one of her heroes), before an up-tempo song and dance number featuring, among other special effects and fancy lighting, flames so fierce that I could feel the heat in row O.
We soon discover that not all is rosy in Rachel’s world, while her career goes from strength to strength and she heads for Academy Award success she has also attracted the attention of a stalker and both she and her young son are in danger. Hence the appointment of The Bodyguard, played by Stuart Reid, who immediately sets strict rules that leave her feeling imprisoned.
I won’t be giving too much away if I reveal that they eventually fall in love, but on the way there are some moments of poignancy, particularly from Rachel’s sister Nicki, who for the last time in her life is once again left in the star’s shadow; elements of comedy, the roughty toughty Bodyguard singing “that song” at a karaoke bar achieving the biggest laughs of the night; and a proper spine-chilling performance from Mike Denman as The Stalker, who of course gets his comeuppance in the most final of ways.
The show is written Alexander Dinelaris and directed by Thea Sharrock. It features choreography by Karen Bruce and set design by Tim Hatley who throughout the show, with the help of lighting designer Mark Henderson, very cleverly moves your gaze from one part of the stage to where he wants you to focus next. Tim has also designed the costumes.
From the ensemble right through to the leads there were some strong performances but for me the two stand-outs were Melissa James, who has a beautiful voice, as Nicki Marron (and oh my goodness, I had some serious leg envy going on…hers are incredibly long and shapely) and Daniel Daszek-Green as young Fletcher, a star in the making I feel. The orchestra, led by Tom Gearing, were fabulous. And is it OK to say that I preferred Alexandra Burke’s rendition of I Will Always Love You to Whitney’s? It was less twiddley (if that’s a word).
Overall, it’s a great show, which ended with the majority of the audience on their feet, dancing and singing along to I Wanna Dance with Somebody, ensuring that after a night of thrills and emotion we left the theatre on a high.
The Bodyguard runs at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 30 January. For further information, including performance times and ticket prices, visit www.atgtickets.com