The Bodyguard

Theatre , West End Dominion Theatre , Fitzrovia Monday December 5 2016 - Tuesday February 7 2017
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(33 user reviews)
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'The Bodyguard'

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'The Bodyguard'

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'The Bodyguard'

 (© Alessandro Pinna)
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© Alessandro Pinna

'The Bodyguard'

 (© Alessandro Pinna)
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© Alessandro Pinna

'The Bodyguard'

'The Bodyguard' returns for 2016 with Beverley Knight as Rachel Marron (not performing Mondays or Wednesday matinees).

For anyone who grew up in the late Eighties, Whitney Houston was part of the decade’s hedonistic soundscape – the dynamic rhythms of her songs and that extraordinary undulating voice an instant cue to go wild on the dance floor. With a clutch of number ones to her name she was the obvious candidate for a jukebox musical – so how fortunate it was that the producers already had the film of ‘The Bodyguard’ to base it on. Or was it?

Right from the moment this unashamedly synthetic love story begins, you become aware of the musical as machine – all lights, vibrations, and jangling clichés. Soul singer Beverley Knight has replaced Heather Headley in the role of Rachel Marron, and the pressure is very much on her to prove that the music is going to carry the show.

She brings considerable star power with her – she has performed with Prince and Stevie Wonder among others – but she’s notably far more comfortable in the upper registers of her voice than the lower. Her acting also only seems to operate in two gears – petulant and precocious. Is this going to be enough?

Thankfully for her – and the audience – it is. No scientific experiment has been performed to see how many Whitney Houston numbers any individual can hear without feeling their hips and possibly even their heart-rate shifting, but for this critic it was about five.

This despite the woeful two dimensionality of the story – stalker threatens rock star, bodyguard is hired to protect her, they fall in love – a sort of modern variant on Tarzan and Jane. It’s also in spite of Tristan Gemmill’s performance as the bodyguard, Frank Farmer, which is so plastic it makes Barbie’s Ken look like Laurence Olivier.

And yet – to a degree – bodyguards are meant to be plastic. And there are glimmers throughout Thea Sharrock’s technically highly proficient production that we are going to get what everyone has come for, which is some of the Houston magic. We hear an element of it in the performance of Debbie Kurup – who plays the star’s put-upon sister Nicki – and whose voice swoops effortlessly from velvety low notes to diamond brilliance. And as the action progresses we hear it from Knight, who really starts to relax by the time she performs ‘I’m Every Woman’.

When we get to the closing number ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ the entire audience is rocking out. Terrible script, negligible performances, but great atmosphere – this one will run and run.

By Rachel Halliburton

Venue name: Dominion Theatre
Contact:
Address: 268-269 Tottenham Court Road
London
W1T 7AQ
Transport: Tottenham Court Road tube
Price: £20-£95. Runs 2hrs 30mins
Event phone: 020 7492 9930
Event website: http://www.thebodyguardmusical.com

Average User Rating

3.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:17
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|33
1 person listening
retroashlat
tastemakerTastemaker

Okay, am I the only one here who thought this was rubbish?

I was really looking forward to this musical as I have heard nothing but rave reviews of anything Beverley Knight touches, and yet I was super disappointed by the apparent "Queen of British Soul." The music was obviously great but of course absolutely nobody can do justice to The late, great Whitney - though Rachel John as Nicki Marron sure got up there. Her performance was worth the rest of the tripe I had to sit through.

Knight's performance seemed so lacklustre to me - for someone who has been in musicals before, she seemed to have a lot of trouble singing and dancing at the same time. To be fair, her dancers were sloppy, but with her out in front just going through the motions, it was more reminiscent of Britney's original "comeback" than anything from the film (or anything to be expected from a performer of that caliber and reputation). Granted, I was sitting in the very back row, but she didn't reach me.

THERE WERE SO MANY 90s PASTICHES OH MY GOD. From the black and white montages to the us of spotlighting and shadow... Cringeworthy. Not to mention that every time the stalker showed up, he was framed in a spot and was never wearing a shirt... He just stood there brooding... The audience started laughing every time he appeared. It was so awkward.

When it was finally over, I looked up a bunch of critics' reviews to see if perhaps I was just evening too cynical about the power of love between a stoic bodyguard and his charge... Nope, generally the reviews mentioned the same I have here.

Honestly, go see pretty much anything else instead. Blech.

Marco D
tastemaker

A truly magnificent, impressive musical.

All should experience The Bodyguard, it will be an unforgettable evening full of music, dance and emotion.

For me it was a perfect show, I was extremely excited to see the Queen of British soul Beverley Knight perform as 'Rachel Marron' the superstar which is based on the film.

Her sister in the musical 'Nicki Marron' played by Rachel John is phenomenal. For me personally she hit that edge, she had the right tone, the melody. It was like heaven listening to her voice.

Ben Richards as 'Frank Farmer' the Bodyguard did a fantastic job, his love and devotion for the Marron family moved me and it was beautiful.

For people who haven't seen the film, the story is based on 'Rachel Marron' the well known superstar and 'Frank Farmer' who is hired to protect her from 'Matthew Stathers' who plays the unknown stalker.

There were parts that startled me whenever the stalker did appear. I did feel like screaming 'WATCH OUT', but then I remembered that I was in a theatre.

Rachel John did it for me in the musical, her voice was completely accurate for each scene. It was truly mind-blowing to listen to such an effortless voice. Beverley did not fall behind, but for me I felt at times that she didn't have that feeling at the right moments of some of the songs. Personally something was missing. I still had a blast of a time and Beverley put on a show to remember. Her voice is equally beautiful and I know that everyone felt the same way. We were all waiting for Whitney's "I Will Always Love You".

It's not the best musical in London that I have seen personally. It still took my breath away.

Experience The Bodyguard for yourself. The view up above was brilliant.

#TOTastemaker Love MD.

Sonia C

I was disappointed that on my visit Beverly Knight wasn't playing the leading role. Her understudy was very good but I booked this show specifically to see the amazing Ms Knight & it wasn't advertised she wouldn't be performing. However this is an excellent show which is surprisingly scary. I saw the production at the Adelphi Theatre & I felt it suited a more intimate theatre than the cavernous Dominion.

Luisa G
Tastemaker

There are only three words to describe this:


YES, YES, YES.


I've never seen the film of the same name, but my sister told me that I'd love the show, and I trust her judgement. I also love Beverley Knight - who doesn't!


The show itself was unbelievable, with just the right amount of singing, suspense, acting..... it was just amazing! I'm going back in a couple of months and i cannot wait!

Ros A
Tastemaker

I had an absolute blast at The Bodyguard last night and I was actually quite surprised that I did. I love the film and sometimes (for me at least), film to stage doesn't have the same impact or it's dull. However, with Beverley Knight as the lead this is basically seeing a superstar singer at close proximity bash out all the Whitney tunes you love. It's hard to go wrong from there. Beverley Knight really is outstanding, I was moved by her performance and her voice is to die for. 


The storyline was fairly close to the original but with some subtle changes. The Frank Farmer actor was the spitting image of Costner and was very good. The showstopper songs were ace, plenty of glitz and glam and the sweeter, softer ones were beautiful too. 


Only thing I wish is that the stalker hadn't been such a six pack hottie - I prefer the film's weird and awkward guy and my friend and I were listening out for the "Noooo, noooooooo" stalker commentary but it never came (possibly for the best, because we would have laughed our heads off!) That said, stalker and all supporting cast were good. 


Thoroughly recommend, perfect material for a girls' night out. 


Lucy H

Wow! Just wow! Beverley Knight leads an amazing cast in this great production, I had goosebumps, I had tears and I had the urge to sing and dance in the isles. I could not think of anyone better to take on the role in the West End that Beverley Knight, so many Whitney classics were incorporated into the show that bring back so many memories for everyone which made the experience all the more enjoyable. Thank you to the whole team behind this production for such an enjoyable night.xx

Jane G.
Tastemaker

I was so excited to see this! I had seats in row K (FYI I wouldn't sit any closer due to smoke and I could feel the heat of the flames in one scene from where I was) I couldn't have asked for more! I went on a Monday and didn't realise Carole Stennett was starring so I was disappointed to have missed Beverly Knight. In all fairness the show had just opened but I didn't feel Stennett could dance and sing at the same time and for the first part of the show I was really thinking I was going to hate it. The actress who plays the sister is a show stealer, I couldn't fault her performance. Once Stennett stood still and as the show progressed she was much better and hit all the notes that I was worried about. I found the bodyguard accent needed to be worked on because it kept changing, but he was very believable for the most part. Now the bad guy...I had goosebumps he was so creepy. The way they portrait the baddie is just great, but I would be careful taking children, it's scary! The final song is uplifting and audience friendly so you don't have to leave feeling heavy from the story. Definitely worth seeing.

Vanessa E

I was lucky enough to win tickets for a preview in July 2016 and my friend and I absolutely loved it. We are big fans of the film and the show didn't disappoint Beverley Knight and Rachel John were outstanding vocalists. I would definitely recommend the show

Aude
tastemaker

If I had to describe the show I would say it was totally amazing, bringing you into the universe of Rachel Marron.

There is not only one star in the Marron family, but two!

On Monday, Carole Stennett is our Rachel, and she is absolutely fantastic! On her side, Rachel John; an incredible singer who bring some tears of my friend and I.

But I never saw the movie and had no comparison, so I asked my friend - a big fan of Whitney - after the show what she thought!

While still dancing and singing in the street she told me how great she thought it was! To use her exact words: "A perfect mix between passion and excitement! The show did not forget any of the beautiful moment of the movie but made them more actual for the public! Perfect acting and such a great complicity between the singers!"


If a Whitney fan says so, you should not hesitate and run to the theatre!


Let's not speak about the final, I won't want to spoil you all the show, but it was totally outstanding!

FloA
tastemaker

I might be a bit young to be a huge fan of the movie (but I've seen it of course!) so I went to this musical with a pretty fresh mind and not too sure what to expect, just hoping for great singing.

My wish has been granted! The singers playing Rachel Marron and her sister are not afraid of the roles and giving it a great energy without giving up their identity.

Regarding the sets and costumes, there's a lot of things happening on the stage, sparkly dresses, fire during the first song, smoke, rain of glitter, lots of lighting all over the place.

Quite busy but very entertaining!

In my opinion one of the best moments of the show is the final: first time I see so many people standing up and shaking up with the cast on "with somebody who loves me"!!

GeorgeX
Tastemaker

Having seen the movie several times, I was really curious to see how the theatrical transfer will reach the audience, in a difficult play for a theatre. 


I didn't expect to be such a nice musical!


Beverley Knight made the best choise she could make on her career. Her role as  Rachel Marron is like being made just for her. I was impressed both from her singing and her acting performance.

Really well produced musical accompanied with Witney Houston's emotional songs, with nice costumes and top score lighting design.

Parklife

Having never been the key demographic for the original film, I was interested to see the live musical version. Yes, Beverley Knight wasn't playing, the accents were on shaky ground and there were numerous plot holes. However, most of the audience weren't expecting Citizen Kane. The characters were likeable and the main villain exuded menace. The medley of Whitney Houston songs in this production underlines what an influential recording artist she was. It was wonderful to see how much the cast and audience enjoyed the show with a euphoric closing rendition of 'I Want to Dance with Somebody'. Everyone was on their feet.

Bee
tastemaker

An unexpected pleasure. I am not the biggest fan of musicals, especially on the hottest day of the year, but this had me skipping home and I had Whitney Houston songs stuck in my head for days. The production was fantastic, so many sequins, lights, smoke, fire and unreal dancing. The voices of the leading ladies were out of this world, the notes that were hit, the soul, they really put everything into it. However, musicals still aren't my cuppa and some of the acting is a bit dumbed down for my liking - we get it!!!. You will have no choice but to have a good time but if you're like me you won't want to.

Kirsty C

As a big fan of the film I was really looking forward to the theatre production, and deliberately didn't read any reviews before we went. We went on a Tuesday (from the comments below, somewhat luckily) and so saw Beverly Knight in all of her splendor. In the first half there is some really plastic, and/or over the top acting from the actor playing Frank Beverly respectively, and I agree with the lady below about the cringe inducing American accents.


However! I am no expert at all when it comes to acting but the second half seemed to morph into a better directed, more natural, believable performance, and throughout the whole evening the songs were brilliant, with fantastic production. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was up on my feet dancing with the rest of the stalls by the end. Even my boyfriend who hasn't ever seen the film was swept away and loved it. In fact he was already saying how much he was enjoying it by the interval, maybe not having the film to compare it to was a benefit for him.


All in all I really enjoyed the whole evening and left on a real high. I would recommend to anyone looking for an enjoyable night out :)

Rachelle C

I took my mum on Monday night and she absolutely loved it! The music was fab! Would highly recommend.

Sammie P
tastemaker

We went on a Monday night and got to see the understudy for Beverley Knight- but she didn't disappoint at all! Fab voice and gorgeous. My favourite though, was Nikki Marron- wow did she steal the show! I left wanting to hear more from this girl. The songs were all performed to such a high level that at some points I thought we were watching a concert. Some of the acting was a bit off but the songs made up for it. Ben Richards was fun and played Frank brilliantly. The best part of the show was the finale where they got the audience on their feet! We had great seats, bang centre in the stalls! Recommended for a fun girls night out. Plus, use the back exit and you'll find a cute little terrace hotel bar - great for a post theatre drink ;)

bailey1988
Tastemaker

Not the best acting in the world (and in some places utterly cringe worthy) but Whitney's greatest hits redeem it slightly. The understudy for Beverley Knight who was performing on Monday evening was fab, such a great singer that I didn't really miss the headline act. For a nice evening out with the girls, pop along to see this show... but perhaps enjoy a cocktail or two beforehand, so you don't mind the dodgy acting!

Grace I
Tastemaker

People walking into the theatre on a Monday night seemed shocked at the announcements taped to the doors that Carole Stennett, and not Beverley Knight, was playing the lead role of Rachel Marron (and some people wanted their money back), but all those complaints ended by the curtain call, when Stennett got a massive standing ovation, along with whoops of joy, from the audience. The play lacks the charisma and charm of the film, and Ben Richards as the bodyguard is often charmless (with an American accent that is often painfully bad--I'm American, so I know...). But the sheer power of the singing by Stennett and Rachel John as her sister Nikki carry the show, made up of songs made ultra-famous by Whitney Houston. The curtain call and encore had the audience on their feet, and people were still singing in the aisles as they left the theatre. Some of the dialogue is corny or silly, and It's not 'Hamlet,' but it is fun, although occasionally exceptionally loud, so don't sit in the front rows unless you want to get blasted. The sheer good-naturedness of the audience was very rare in London, so just go with it and have fun, and be prepared to sing along at the end.

Sosh_uk
Tastemaker

I was a dance with somebody, I wanna feel the heat with somebody.... What a brilliant show, unfortunately we saw it on s Monday night and later found out Beverly Knight doesn't perform on Mondays and Wednesday matinees, so be warned when you book your ticket. The show moved to the Dominion last week and what a great place for it. The show and set were great, the costume changes were slick. The bodyguard was quite hot too! If you are an 80s child, this musical is for you. The whole audience was up at the end dancing and you will find yourself singing along to almost every song! This is a great musical, Whitney RIP, she would've been proud of this.

Deon Pillay (theindependentfoodie)
tastemaker

Fantastic scripting, dazzling lighting and huge ballads from the fantastic Miss Houston. With very big boots to fill Miss Carole Stennett definitely had her work cut out. Overshadowed at times by her co star Rachel John who's softer tones and harmonic melodies left us wanting more. Miss Stennett finally finds her feet in the second half delivering three strong performances in a row even managing a few Whitney rifts and high notes. Ben Richards was great at playing the sexy, charismatic Frank Farmer, and the bedroom seen had the ladies and some of the gents in a sweat. This musical has the power to take you on emotional roller coaster journey, I would recommend a tissue or two as the music and clever scripting evoke memories, love, lost love, death and heartache. It's literally starts with a bang and leaves you feeling uplifted, hands clapping, feet stomping and a joyful song in your heart. The bodyguard and it's fantastic written score, sexy dancing,powerful ballads, glitzy costume and staging is defiantly a must see.

Vieve W
Tastemaker

"I'm every woman, it's all in meeeee" is just one of the classics you will come out humming after experiencing the magic that is 'The Bodyguard': the musical. Whitney Houston was of course (and remains) the Queen of Soul and R&B. So it was with an excited mind and dancing feet I went along to see this at the Adelphi Theatre just before it closed in London. The sets were very well designed and you felt as if you were there. Whether it was the karaoke diner, Rachel's House or the Awards ceremony, I felt a part of the scene. Written by Alexander Dinelaris, the show differs slightly from the original film with a greater focus on Rachel Marron's (Whitney) character as opposed to the Bodyguard. Unfortunately Dinelaris' version doesn't quite hit the mark. The story is at times, drawn out and missing the suspense found in the original Lawrence Kasdan version. But the cast make up for it and are immensely talented. Then played by the talent that is Heather Headley, the play takes you on the familiar journey that is Rachel's life. Heather has an amazing voice and you are left with no doubt as to how she is a Grammy award winner. 'So Emotional', 'Run to You' and of course 'I Will Always Love You' are just a sample of the Whitney classics performed throughout the musical. Frank Farmer aka The Bodyguard was played by Lloyd Owen. He plays the typical broody and far from talkative brawn that eventually develops feelings and love for Rachel. Don't get me wrong, this is the same cheesy and clichéd classic brought to life. The storyline is as predictable as ever and we all know how it ends. But if you're looking for a musical with a story you know and love, where you can tap your feet and belt out the classics in the audience...then this is it!

anne c

just back from seeing the show and i loved it. Alexandra Burke was outstanding, the songs were great. i was really impressed with the set and the slick changes both to that and the costumes. If you get a chance go and see it

SarahW

I really enjoyed the show.I didn't get to see Beverly Knight on the night I went, but this didn't detract from my enjoyment at all. I did feel there was perhaps something missing but I can't put my finger on it. It may just have been the absence of Whitney Houston herself.

Sarah Penton

The Bodyguard is definitely worth seeing. Beverly Knight is excellent, the costumes are incredible and the dancing is uplifting. Well worth seeing.

CaroleP

I enjoyed the movie so wasn't sure I would like the show. Really loved it , very well done and the singing was first class, I also thought the set was good. The seats were good and received the tickets with no problems

RobW

I'm not a musical fan at all. I had to be dragged along to this. BUT . . .what a pleasant surprise. The plot isn't amazing and is a bit cheesy (I hadn't seen the film), but that's often the case with musicals. The whole thing stands or falls on whether you like the music I suppose - and Whitney's hits come thick and fast. I think it was Joelle Moses playing the lead (Thurs 3rd October - certainly wasn't Beverley Knight) - but I couldn't care less. She sang amazingly well. The 'big' number on the rising podium was spot on. There is a laugh or two along the way - and the set is as good as a set can be (the set at the Academy Award ceremony is simple, yet brilliant), and a very clever use of slient slow-mo in a disco scene. We did have the best seats (centre stalls row F) - which always adds how much a show like this come across. I don't see how anyone could rate this low - unless they hate the music of Whitney Houston fans - and in that case why are they going? A good, easy, uplifting and fun night out. Not for theatre snobs I guess (based on some reviews), but I, for one, left feeling very entertained.

miha

I was really dissapointed about singing and acting. The whole performance was below the expectations.

Simon Burman

First half is slow, no belting out of numbers, stage graphics out of sync and dated. Doesn't strutt when on stage, but looks at her shoes? What's that about! You're supposed to be an established star. Only until the last song of the first act does it start to pick up. Note to sound technician - turn her mic up! Second half much better. Seriously lacks tone and warmth though. Not worth the money. Ghost FAR BETTER!

russell thomas

Don't Go Unless heather is playing as rachel marron ! Major Dissapointment. If Your A Heather Fan They stuck in an understudy's understudy from the musical esemble . Costumes didn't fit ,but above all the awful! vocal scraeming almost unbearable and totaly out of tune !!!,Janet Kumar was her name not even listed as an undertsudy never heard of her ever. check an make shore heather is on !!! i was told now its been previewed for first few weeks she only does a few shows and one weekend show ! dissapointing ! false advertising in a way its like there filling seats and giving customers false expectations !!!

Naite

The review is spot on! I waited so long to see this and while it was the most amazing set I have seen in a musical (they did have to stop the show 3 times as the set wouldn't move...disaster) the acting was beyond bad. The character of Rachel is extremely unlikeable and Frank is so monotone. I want to like it, I really do....but the money and time seems to have all gone to the set and not into the script. Ohhh and Rachel wears the same jeans in about 6 scenes...that annoyed the crap outta me! No metal dress, just those jeans!!!

Rowan Black

What can I say a wonderful musical and at a price that everyone can afford. Do yourself a faver an see this must see musical as soon as possible. FANTASTIC !!!!!!

Sara

I couldn't agree more with The Guardian and Time Out's review. I saw during preview period and both my friend and myself were not impressed. The show and performers are very much let down by the book, there isn't the tension that should be there, the iconic outfit featured in the marketing and advertising on the programme cover doesn't even feature in the show. Was very disappointing but fantastic individual performances.

mark

This could be the surprise winner of this years new show openings. I think a star is about to be born in Heather Headley - book! But try to see her