New Victoria Theatre, Woking – until 9 April 2016
Then touring until 26 June
[Then transferring to the West End with new cast led by Beverley Knight]
Based on the Warner Bros. film, Thea Sharrock’s production is a delight visually and of course musically – topped by a stunning performance from Alexandra Burke.
From the explosive opening number ‘Queen of the Night’ starting the show in style all the way through to the highly charged and emotional climax, The Bodyguard has plenty to delight visually and musically to capture the audience’s attention throughout.
The story follows Frank Farmer (Stuart Reid) who is reluctantly in charge of looking after one of the world’s biggest stars Rachel Marron (Alexandra Burke) and prevent her from being attacked by her stalker (Matthew Stathers). What neither expect is to fall in love.
Although most of the audience will be familiar with all of Whitney Houston hits used in the production, what is unexpected is how the show also deals with the darker sides of fame that for the most part the public are unaware of. There are several scenes that are filled with tension – such as the scene at the club or the night at the cabin when the stalker catches up with Rachel and her family – leading to tragic consequences.
It has to be said that the production is dazzling to watch from the video projections used to show what the stalker is potentially getting up to to the stunning lighting, curtsey of Mark Henderson, used to great effect to reflect the changing mood of the scene. Meanwhile Tim Hatley has created a dynamic set that changes scenes easily and draws the audience’s eye to the action.
The performances are of top quality and electrifying from beginning to end. Alexandra Burke adds great sensitivity and emotion to the character of Rachel – who seems tough and determined but gradually realises there is a sense of vulnerability that she can’t deny. her interpretations of the classic Houston songs are brilliant and have great sincerity about them that is mesmerising to watch.
There is also a strong performance from Rachel John as Rachel’s sister Nikki – who makes the perfect contrast to Burke but at the same time more than proves her worth vocally – particularly during ‘Saving All My Love For You’ a beautifully controlled and heart warming performance.
Stuart Reid as Frank Farmer is suitably tough but has plenty of charm and charisma that makes his character easy to like – particularly during the karaoke scene where he makes a fool of himself. Matthew Stathers is also more than suitably creepy as the stalker and showing how even a celebrity can never be truly safe from danger.
It is a shame therefore that the characters and plot just feel ever so slightly underdeveloped and could have been taken just a little bit further. The show depends a lot on Alexandra Burke to carry it off and it would be great to see the other characters get more of a look in.
However, for those looking for top notch performances and an entertaining evening out that is easy to keep up with then this is a show that you will not want to miss. Brilliant.
The Bodyguard appears at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until the 9th April before continuing to tour until the 26th June. To book tickets for some of the remaining dates visit ATG tickets.