MusicalNorth East & YorkshireReview

The Bodyguard the Musical – Leeds Grand Theatre

Reviewer: Jennie Eyres

Book: Alexander Dinelaris

Director: Thea Sharrock

The second this show began, the message was absolutely clear. A huge bang, gun shots and straight into a brilliant rendition of Queen of the Night meant the audience were under no illusion that this was intended to be a full on, high energy production, and this was the case for every song that was performed with the dancers.

The Bodyguardhas been in the West End and then on tour for 11 years, but it has not dated. The story of a global star in need of a bodyguard she doesn’t want, and a bodyguard who doesn’t ‘do celebrities’ works just as well now as it did in the 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, and has now been updated to include the use of mobile phones, social media and conversations about IP addresses.

For a touring production, the set is fairly complex, with many layers to it, including a full log cabin at one point, which is impressive and generally works well – there was the overzealous arrival of a wheeled stage block with table and chairs on at the start of the karaoke scene, but other than that there seemed to be no other hitches in what is a relatively technical show.

The show is essentially a vehicle for the star playing Rachel Marron, currently played by Melody Thornton of Pussycat Dolls’ fame. Thornton is diminutive on stage, tiny even in heels, and her daytime costumes did her no favours, drowning her in baggy jumpers and an oversized leather jacket, but her costumes for her performances were thankfully more glamorous. Her voice, however, is huge and her range and ability is incredible. She sang every song with a clarity of tone and some excellent vocal acrobatics. That said, she is not necessarily an actress, and there seemed to be only a mild chemistry between her character and Frank Farmer, the infamous mono-syllabic bodyguard whose reputation proceeds him. Farmer was played by Emmerdale and Hollyoaks star Ayden Callaghan, who is no stranger to live theatre, so maybe it was the script that served to limit his acting abilities into producing a solid but not sparkling performance.

A mention must go to Emily Mae, who, in a show that doesn’t really focus much on character development, managed to convey her own character’s thoughts and feelings through every movement and word, and whose songs were incredibly powerful and emotive, demonstrating her live theatre experience. Mae’s voice worked beautifully with Thornton’s, making a great pairing, though the scene in which the suitably scary stalker (Marios Nicolaides) mistakes Nicki for her sister wasn’t the most believable given that the two are very different in stature.

The show was funnier than anticipated, with much of the comedy coming from the creative team around Rachel Marron, a combination of PR luvvy Sy Spector (James Groom), dead pan security guard Tony Scibelli (Graham Elwell) and long-standing manager Bill Devaney (John Macaulay).

Although the second half began in a very stilted manner, with Thornton standing in pose ready to sing about Farmer, who happened to be asleep in bed showing off all his muscles, it did build nicely to the final scenes in which the stalker intimidated the audience with his laser equipped hand gun pointed at them, foreshadowing what was to come at the very end.

Once the tension of the story was over, a singalong version of I Wanna Dance With Somebody got both audience and cast singing and dancing. An upbeat end to an enjoyable show with a solid cast.

Runs until 17th June 2023.

The Reviews Hub Score

Solid entertainment value

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The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. 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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