The Bodyguard

Theatre , West End Dominion Theatre , Fitzrovia Until Tuesday February 7 2017
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(21 user reviews)
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1/5
© Alessandro Pinna

'The Bodyguard'

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© Alessandro Pinna

'The Bodyguard'

3/5
© Alessandro Pinna

'The Bodyguard'

4/5
© Alessandro Pinna

'The Bodyguard'

5/5
© 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

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:12
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|21
1 person listening
Bee
tastemaker

What 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 story was engaging even though I knew what would happen and the production was fantastic, so many sequins, lights, spoke, fire and unreal dancing. Lastly, the voices of the leading ladies were out of this world, the notes that were hit and the emotion, they really put everything into it. Bravo.

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