The Bodyguard The Musical – Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

Reviewer: Clare White

Book: Alexander Dinelaris

Director: Thea Sharrock

Superstar Rachel Marron has it all, but the price of fame is high. Along with a dazzling career, she has also gained the unwanted attention of an obsessive stalker. When heroic ex-secret service agent Frank Farmer is hired to protect her, she is initially resentful of his strict safety regime until a serious threat is made to her and her family. Rachel turns to Frank for help; however, lines are crossed as the two start to fall in love.

Based on the 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, the musical version of The Bodyguard is as much nostalgic as it is entertaining. Over thirty years since its release, the film soundtrack is still the best-selling of all time and this stage incarnation delivers them all, Queen of the Night, One Moment in Time, Greatest Love of All, and the eminent climax I Will Always Love You, plus some additional hits from Houston’s glittering back catalogue.

It’s fair to say tackling a role so synonymous with Houston, otherwise known as ‘The Voice’, and successfully emulating said voice, is not one for the faint-hearted. Expectations are high. Stepping up to the mic this time is girl band star Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton, who impresses, vocally certainly getting the job done. On the acting side, she takes a while to warm up, and overall, it feels like she is holding back, perhaps conserving energy for the big notes she belts out later.

Emily-Mae is a shining star, captivating as Rachel’s envious sister Nikki. As with the film, it’s a shame the character is underused, as the more Emily-Mae we can have, the better. Run to You, performed as a moving duet between Rachel and Nikki is a goose-bump-inducing highlight.

Frank Farmer aka ‘The Bodyguard’ is played by Hollyoaks actor Ayden Callaghan, who is a solid leading man, managing to bring a more charismatic side to a largely one-dimensional character. Marios Nicolaides is successfully terrifying as the sinister stalker, responsible for several ‘jump out of your skin moments.’

Unlike the film version, space is made for light as well as dark, with moments of softness and humour created between Frank and Rachel’s young son Fletcher and the aforementioned bodyguard’s attempt to butcher I Will Always Love You in a boozy karaoke bar.

A dynamic ensemble under the choreographic direction of Karen Bruce, and the use of pyrotechnics, laser projections and mildly cheesy video projections enhance the atmosphere and energy.

The stage version of the bittersweet romantic thriller doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, there is little time for character development or chemistry building, and it is and was largely a vehicle for Houston’s hits. But in truth, maybe it doesn’t matter, because that is the pull here and the result is enjoyable.

Runs until: 13 May 2023 and on tour

The Reviews Hub Score

Nostalgic and entertaining

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The Reviews Hub - Central

The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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