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The Bodyguard, Musical Review by Lynn Carroll
It started with an unexpected BANG, quite literally, causing the audience to gasp and jump and left me hoping no one in the auditorium suffered from a weak or nervous disposition, let alone a heart condition. Very 007, as that initial shoot out took place behind a screen which showed silhouettes only before rising to reveal The Bodyguard, standing between his fallen client and the shooter.
This quickly moved on to the main story and an opening song from Melody Thornton (ex Pussycat Doll) in the role of Rachel Marron. Not wishing to detract from the power and ability of her voice I will say at this point that I am not sure that anyone can ever come close to the beauty and excellence of Whitney Houston’s performance in the film version of this show. But I do concede that on film she would have had the benefit of sound recording equipment to enhance and help.
Technology did indeed play its part in this stage production but being a technophobe myself, I am not sure how to explain it. Forgive my simplified explanation of there being a huge screen to the back of the stage on which we saw projected a few pre-filmed scenes that moved the story on, enabling us to see what the villain of the piece was getting up to.
There cannot be many Bodyguard fans who do not remember the scene where Kevin Costner carries Whitney off the stage when she is surrounded by a seemingly threatening crowd. I felt let down upon seeing Melody in what appeared to be black leggings with a slightly more glamorous top and a hat, rather than the beautiful and sparkling outfit and headdress we saw in the film, which truly reflected the character’s star status. Previous shows I have attended at the Cliffs have had costumes that I felt must have blown the budget, sadly, not this one.
Whilst struggling with my memory of the story I could not remember, and don’t think there was, a scene set in a Karaoke club where Frank Farmer sings, badly. This of course is deliberate and was the only time we saw him depart from his austere and wooden portrayal, possibly trying too hard to emulate Costner?
The surprise of the show, with a voice that wowed me, came in the form of Emily-Mae in the role of Nicki Marron. She deservedly received a resounding appreciation of her talent as the actors took their bows just prior to the wonderful finale. But before moving on I must give a huge ‘well done’ to the only child in the cast, Frankie Keita, who played the part of Rachel’s son, Fletcher. His performance was exquisitely natural and ‘aahh’ producing.
I would not want anyone to infer from my review that this show was somehow lacking, it definitely was not. To younger viewers who have not seen the film it will have them rushing to watch it, but those who remember the film well will more than likely find themselves making comparisons that will be unfair. Do popular films translate well to stage, especially musicals? I am not sure, as it depends entirely on personal preference. It seems to be a modern trend which fills theatres and entertains but I find myself wishing for new productions where my mind is not distracted by comparisons and memories, often false.
But, when all is said and done, if you like musicals you will love this one and a trip down memory lane can be a welcome journey filled with wonderful songs recorded by Whitney that we remember so well.
The finale was a joy. Having been respectfully asked to refrain from singing along, crunching, rattling and munching during the performance, we were then given full permission to join in a rousing celebration of song and dance which included the whole cast, with the notable exception of Frank Farmer who made an entrance during the last minute or so.
Would I recommend? Yes, of course I would. It will be an evening well spent and you will leave more elevated than when you arrived.
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