Published on February 6, 2014 | by Sean McKee0
Theatre review: The Bodyguard
✮✮ • • •
Nothing gets me more excited than the prospect of watching a musical adaptation of one of my favourite films of all time, which includes a catalogue of hits from one of the greatest vocalists of all time (RIP Whitney), a role taken by R’n’B superstar vocalist Beverley Knight, and a prime spot on London’s West End, what could be better?
A lot it seems. Despite having a great plot and soundtrack from the 1992 Bodyguard movie, the musical adaptation has been tweaked to feature a love triangle between Knight’s character, pop-star Rachel Marron (originally played by Whitney Houston), her bodyguard, played by the utterly charmless Tristan Gemmel (no Kevin Costner), and her sister Nicki (played by newcomer Maria Okinawa, who does a decent job).
This addition to the plot is largely unsuccessful and unnecessary, and seems to be added purely so they can include some of Houston’s other successful ballads that were not in the film, namely One Moment in Time and Saving all my Love for You.
Coupled with the disappointing plot-line is the lack of scenery and very cheap costumes. It’s difficult to see where the £5 million pounds of production costs in creating the show went.
The costumes were a major disappointment for me – Marron is supposed to be the biggest superstar on the planet, yet performs live on stage in JEANS! This is not at all realistic or evocative of the glamour you expect from the West End.
The production seems to totally lack in everything except the vocals, in which Knight is the standout performer. If you’re a fan of the singer, or even of the late Houston, it’s definitely worth a trip just to see her belt her way through the show with powerhouse performances.
The vocalist manages to make each song her own; her rendition of I Will Always Love You brought goosebumps and commanded utter silence in the crowd; even from the hen parties in the back who thought this show would be worth a drunken pit stop.
It’s not all doom and gloom and balladry though; the show does kick off full of energy with an unfortunately misplaced performance of Queen of the Night.
The last ten minutes are the closest this show gets to replicating some of the West End’s classic theatre productions, by including Houston’s more up-tempo numbers, like the global hit I Want to Dance with Somebody.
All the greatest fears of what could go wrong by turning cinema into theatre have happened with this project; a ‘half-gig, half thriller’ vibe, tacky and unrealistic adaptations, and a serious lack of character and story development has left this a very thin production indeed.
The show has been running now for little over a year, and I’d be astounded if it manages to run for much longer after Knight leaves her role in May.