If you’re going to produce a musical stage version of one of the biggest grossing films of the 1990s then it better be damn good.
The Bodyguard doesn’t let you down. From the moment the opening night audience at Oxford’s New Theatre jumped out of their seats from a totally unexpected gunshot, to a dazzling blockbuster finale, this is a musical not to be missed.
The staging is spectacular, the entire ensemble gives standout performances, the dancers so hot that they’re off the scale, the songs fabulously sung by Alexandra Burke and Melissa James, while the leading man is the ultimate, rugged, no-nonsense hero.
And lurking in the shadows is one of the scariest characters ever seen on the modern stage. Nothing comes close to The Stalker. This is the definitive bad guy who haunts the entire production bringing a night of danger and suspense.
We all remember the 1992 award-winning film with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner which simultaneously won awards for its songs and raspberries for being one of the most enjoyable bad movies ever made.
The stage version benefits from its seamless blend of musical performance coupled with a thrilling dramatic storyline.
It’s very filmic in style and makes full use of high-tech video inserts, pyrotechnics, and light-shows but it really is an edge-of-your seat ride right from the start.
Mike Denman’s performance as the terrifying stalker, who has one of the world’s top singing stars in his sights, is bolstered by some seriously intense and dramatic background music and atmospheric lighting.
He doesn’t have a word of dialogue until the second Act. Instead he just..appears – and makes you jump out of your seat. Director Thea Sharrock has done a superlative job of racking up the tension.
We first meet our leading lady when she’s performing. Imagine a composite featuring the very best bits of Beyoncé and Rihanna. Burke, as singing superstar and actress Rachel Marron, blasts onto the stage with her troupe to give us the leading number from her new Oscar-contender movie.
Musically this 2008 X Factor winner is a knockout though she’s not stretched on the acting front. Even so, Burke more than convinces in a role she that she pretty much plays in real life (without the death threats and temper tantrums).
But fame brings out the whack-jobs who want to marry her/ harm her/ kill her, or any combination of the above. Her head of security needs help to protect her and her young son, Fletcher – so he goes to the best.
Stuart Reid could take out Costner with one piercing glower from those steely-eyes. What a man! No wonder Marron – and her overlooked, but equally talented sister, Nicki (Melissa James) – eventually succumb to his laconic charm.
He may have a seriously dodgy taste in pullovers but here is a superhero who is willing to take a bullet in the line of duty.
Reid’s surly, testosterone pumping Frank Farmer scores maximum points throughout. His cold, icy, bluff exterior – but with the occasional dazzling smile – immediately puts him at odds with his boss who is determined to carry on life, and public appearances, as normal.
As the clash of personalities deepens – and the menace of the stalker becomes even more prevalent – it’s inevitable where we’re heading. When you need a champion there’s only one man who can save you….your bodyguard.
The climax, on Oscar night, will have you holding your breath. I’ve never been so excited by a stage show.
Amid the dramatics are, of course, the award-winning songs. Greatest Love of All, I’m Every Woman, I Will Always Love You, One Moment in Time, Run To You. A total of 16 smash hit songs that are, simulaneously, breathtaking, exhilarating and electrifying.
The Bodyguard (The Musical) plays at the New Theatre until November 21.
The Bodyguard - The Musical
The Bodyguard, a thrilling and electrifying rollercoaster that keeps you on the edge of your seat while delivering some of the great musical numbers of the 1990s.