The Bodyguard – Milton Keynes Theatre

Writer: Alexander Dinelaris

Director: Thea Sharrock

Reviewer: Maggie Constable

The much-anticipated Bodyguard hits Milton Keynes this week and literally explodes onto the stage. It is based on the hugely popular 1992 film of the same name that starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. 2012 saw the opening of the stage musical in the West End to great acclaim from critics and audiences alike.

This rom-thriller centres on Rachel Marron, international singer and superstar, who is being stalked by a mysterious and clearly disturbed, maybe even dangerous individual. Her team brings in a bodyguard to protect her when a threatening letter is found and it is the ensuing relationship between the diva and bodyguard, Frank Farmer, which forms the basis of the story, intertwined with the search for the stalker.

As Rachel Marron, Alexandra Burke exudes sexy charm. She has a real range and depth to her voice and does justice to the many songs. From the first big bang moment, she is belting out those Whitney numbers but she never overdoes it, as some have been tempted to do, bringing her own style to each song. Her rendition of the iconic I Will Always Love You is spine-tinglingly great. She proves, too, that she can act and there is certainly believable chemistry between her and Frank Farmer. In the latter role, Stuart Reid gives a very solid performance and really settles into it as the show progresses. He manages to convey convincingly the oft immovable force that is Farmer the bodyguard as well as showing his vulnerability.

Rachel John takes on the role of Rachel’s younger sibling, Nicki, and does so with panache. She has a lovely voice and her Run To You duet with her sister is excellent and with beautiful harmonies. She too will one day be a leading lady.

The stalker, played with real menace by Matthew Stathers, is ominously present throughout and this brings extra tension to the story, much more so than in the film. Some clever video footage interspersed with the stalker’s appearances adds to the effect.

Set design by Tim Hatley is spot on and demarcates each scene well with very smooth and rapid transitions adding to the pace of the show.

There are sixteen of Whitney’s greatest hits in the musical, many more than in the film, ranging from the wonderful ballads such as Saving All My Love For You, One Moment In Time and I Have Nothing to I Wanna Dance With Somebody so one cannot help but sing along. Indeed, all the audience was on its feet and singing and clapping along for the encore. How could you not be?

A great evening’s entertainment.

Runs until 23 April 2016 | Image: Paul Coltas

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