LondonMusicalReview

The Bodyguard – Orchard Theatre, Dartford

Reviewer: Dan English

Book: Alexander Dinelaris

Director: Thea Sharrock

Alexandra Burke dazzles in this production of The Bodyguard which reaches Dartford’s Orchard Theatre as part of its UK Tour.

The Bodyguard is the musical adaptation of its film predecessor which starred Whitney Houston, and it sees megastar Rachel Marron (Alexandra Burke) requiring protection from newly-hired bodyguard Frank Farmer (Ben Lewis) as a stalker haunts the singer. As the story unfolds, the bond which grows between the pair blossoms in this romantic thriller of a musical, underpinned by a collection of Houston’s smash hits and a few heart-stopping bumps along the way.

Burke’s tender yet powerful portrayal of the hunted Marron is pitch-perfect, and it is a treat to listen to Burke go through Houston’s repertoire. The glitz and glamour is performed spectacularly, and Burke delivers the show-stopping routines with aplomb. The songs feel fresh through Burke, who gives an energetic and raw performance of the piece’s protagonist.

Ben Lewis’ brilliantly dry Frank Farmer is the perfect antidote to the glamorous lifestyle of Marron. Lewis’ suave delivery is composed and assured, yet Lewis’ wit is evident particularly during an awkward karaoke exchange. When Farmer’s guard drops, it’s then that Lewis lets us in to this unique character.

The relationship between Marron and Farmer is the centrepiece to this thriller, and at times the script’s on-the-nose delivery of it makes the development of this relationship slightly jarring. That said, there is a warmth between Marron and Farmer that Burke and Lewis capture, and this escapes the traps of the flimsy dialogue.

Emmy Willow is Nicki Marron, Rachel’s downtrodden and under-appreciated sister. Willow threatens to the steal the show with her commanding vocal delivery, and the portrayal of her fragility is carefully crafted.

Phil Atkinson is the aptly named ‘The Stalker’ and his presence certainly does not go unnoticed in this performance. There are moments of genuine tension as you wait for The Stalker to make his move, but there are also some moments which appear to evaporate The Stalker’s menacing quality, serving as odd moments of juxtaposition, particularly near the end of the first half.

Underpinned by a strong selection of Houston’s biggest hits, including numbers which were not in the original film, each song is delivered triumphantly. Some are reworked and some are as the original was, but each move the piece along and do not disrupt the narrative like similar moves can in other productions.

The Bodyguard delivers a genuinely thrilling two and a half hours which keeps the audience waiting for the eventual payoff. This is a slick, glitzy production of the film, and is one that does not fail to deliver jumps, warmth and plenty of songs to sing along to long after the curtain falls.

Runs until 18th January 2020, then continues to tour.

The Reviews Hub Score

Glitzy, Thrilling, Soulful

User Rating: 2.5 ( 2 votes)
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