The Bodyguard | Review
Beverley is Queen of the Knight
Never before have I seen a full standing ovation, before the final number of a musical has even finished. That was of course, until I saw The Bodyguard.
As everyone took their seats in The Dominion Theatre, the excitement was clear, the conversations were loud in the full house for gala night. Bang, suddenly the lights drop, the audience silenced, and from that moment gripped to the stage as the curtain was raised.
From the firing of the gunshots by bodyguard Frank Farmer, to the flames that erupted with the introduction of singer Rachel Marron, the first five minutes set the tone for an exciting evening.
At first there is a clear friction between the two characters, Frank wants to protect his client who is a reckless star, and unaware of the threat she herself is under. As the story unfolds she begins to realise that she needs him, for security initially at least. When the two become closer emotionally, there’s an increased tension as the threat to Rachel’s life becomes greater, while her overshadowed and quietly jealous sister Nicki begins to fall for him too.
With Beverley Knight previously performing as Rachel in her 2013 professional debut, one may expect a different headline name, but simply put, she is unreplaceable. It is not a bold statement to say she is the best Whitney Houston performer in the UK, because when she is singing on stage she isn’t impersonating a superstar, she commands the audience with her own presence and exceptional talents as a performer.
This stage adaptation of the original hit 1992 movie had more comical elements to it than I was expecting, sometimes with the audience laughing in moments that may not have originally intended to be humorous, which was fine as the production openly acknowledges its cheesiness where it’s needed.
Ben Richards delivers an excellent performance as bodyguard Frank Farmer, which is a challenging role because he is such an emotionally reserved character, if not done correctly he could almost come across as boring, but Ben delivers with sincerity, and uses the reticent nature of Frank to produce some really funny moments, especially when, unlike the film, he awkwardly sings at the Karaoke bar to woo Rachel.
Rachel’s Sister Nicki Marron, is played by Rachel John, who has a stunning voice. With a higher pitch than Beverley Knight, when the two joined together to sing it was almost ghostly as their harmonies fused to create an otherworldly sound, it was one of the most moving musical moments I have experienced on stage.
Another star of the show was Jaden Oshenye, who played Rachel’s son Fletcher. He was adorable and the audience loved him, not only did he bring the sweet innocence of the character to life but he was really talented as a dancer and singer.
This isn’t a show where you sit quietly and take in the action, the crowd were cheering, clapping and even whooping occasionally, and at the end everyone was standing and singing to the final number. Beverley Knight’s performance of I Will Always Love You was truly mesmerising and should be marked as one of the most iconic moments in musical history. Thea Sharrock’s production has excellent cinematic value too, while sticking close to Lawrence Kasdan’s original script for the film, it also adds in moments and small scenes that make the musical it’s own entity, with a few extra Whitney Houston songs thrown into the mix.
The Bodyguard is an electric evening of spellbinding singing and magnificent moments that has to be seen to be believed. For any Sussex based readers, yes it’s completely worth the trip on Southern Rail.
The Bodyguard plays at The Dominion Theatre until 7 January,
Reviewer : Stephen Sheldrake