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.