The Bodyguard

Reviewed by Jodie Crawford

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Based on the iconic 1992 blockbuster film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, the musical adaptation of The Bodyguard premiered in the West End in 2012 and has since played all over the world.  It is a mix of theatre and a pop concert, boasting some of Whitney Houstons greatest hits. 

The show, quite literally starts with a bang – and sets the tone for the constant stream of jump out of your seat moments that hit us throughout the production. 

The show tells the tale of megastar, Rachel Marran, played by the powerful and elegant Melody Thornton. Rachel is being stalked by an obsessive fan (Marios Nicolaides) who is sending her terrifying death threats. Although reluctant at first Rachel agrees to the addition of Frank Farmer (Ayden Callaghan) as her personal bodyguard. While at first they don’t see eye to eye, they of course fall in love – but it isn’t such a fairytale ending for the pair.

There is no getting away from the fact that this script isn’t the most sophisticated, or engaging- but it really doesn’t matter. The cast of this show are incredible. Melody Thornton is a triumph as Rachel Marron. The task of taking on those big Whitney numbers must feel like climbing Everest, but OMG this lady is absolutely incredible. I can still feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up from watching her deliver the most iconic cover version of “I will love you “. She deserved every single moment of the standing ovation that the audience gave. 

While her performance is excellent, she isn’t the only star of this show. I had no expectations of Ayden Callaghan, but my goodness he gave Costner a run for his money. He is sleek, smooth and quite literally made me weak at the knees. He delivers a straight, strong performance and I am sure we will be seeing him on big west end stages in the future – and I’m sure that there is actually quite the singing voice in there too! 

Emily-Mae also wowed me in her role as Rachel’s often overlooked and unappreciated sister. Her voice is like velvet. Everything about her performance was first class. Every wink of the eye, side look, eye roll and smirk was noticed and carefully delivered. While he character is often second fiddle to her sister, Emily-Mae’s performance was stand out. 

The whole cast and ensemble work well together and create an action packed, charming and entertaining show. The soundtrack is the star of the show, it’s what we are all there for, but there’s some dark moments too that come when you’re least expecting them and that gives it some much needed depth. The use of digital imagery works well and generally the set design is impressive – although there was a bit too much reliance on very large draping curtains. Which did momentarily  cause some technical issues for the crew and cast. But like the consummate professionals they are, they took a moment, fixed it and put their best foot forward. 

This production ended as it started, big, bold and about as Whitney as it gets. An absolute tribute to the star she was. You don’t have to be a big Whitney fan to enjoy the show, but if you are, then you are going to absolutely love it! 

The Bodyguard is on at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until Saturday 15th April tickets available here.

Little Shop of Horrors

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Little Shop of Horrors – Storyhouse, Chester

Director: Stephen Mear

Music and Lyrics: Howard Ashman

Music: Alan Menken

Reviewer: Matt Forrest

Star rating: ****

Little Shop of Horrors has all the ingredients of a great story: a love story between two beautiful souls who life has constantly mistreated. Throw into the mix themes of greed, fame and lust, and of course a giant man-eating plant!

The much-loved musical arrives at the Storyhouse for a spring run that is filled with toe-tapping tunes, absurd comedy and a hefty splattering of blood-soaked gore.

Based on the original film by B-movie maestro Roger Corman, we meet timid florist Seymour, the much put-upon assistant shop for Mr Mushnik. Seymour has a lot to deal with; Mushnik’s flower shop is going under fast due to its location on Skid Row, the wrong part of town. He is head-over-heels in love with his co-worker, Audrey and to cap it all off Seymour has discovered a new strange and unusual plant, which he has named the Audrey II. The trouble is, Audrey II is wilting away before his eyes. Following an accident with a rose bush, Seymour soon learns that Audrey II has an appetite for something a little stronger than Miracle Grow. However, as the plant grows bigger, Mushnik rakes in more and more money. Could this little botanic marvel be Seymour’s ticket to winning the girl of his dreams and the chance to leave behind Skid Row for ever, and if so, at what cost?

Little Shop of Horrors at Storyhouse, Chester, 2019

Little Shop of Horrors is an absolute treat and well worth catching. Some great catchy numbers from Alan Menken and lyrists Howards Ashman, stand out songs being the company ensemble sung Skid Row (Downtown) and the up tempo yet sinister Feed Me (Get it).

The cast are on great form with Joshua Lay and Michelle Bishop showing great chemistry as Seymour and Audrey: their rendition of the musical’s signature tune Suddenly Seymour brought the house down. The supporting cast are also great. Cindy Belliot, Tanisha Spring and Emily-Mae, are in fine voice as the sassy residents of Skid Row, Chiffon Crystal, and Ronette. Tony Timberlake is equally impressive as the devious Mr Mushnik, whilst Stephane Anelli, puts in a hilarious and scene-stealing turn as Orin, Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend.

Ryan O’ Gorman and Brett Sheils do an amazing job bringing Audrey II to life, with Gorman giving the plant attitude and menace, Audrey II gets all the best lines and Gorman makes the most of them.

Tonight’s performance was not without its flaws, there were a few timing issues but these are minor quibbles for what is a fun enjoyable, heartfelt darkly comic night at the theatre. If you don’t enjoy this then maybe you need to take a closer look inside Audrey II, she’ll take all of those reservations away!


Little Shop of Horrors is at the Storyhouse, Chester till the June 2nd tickets available at: