After sold out runs in London’s West End, The Bodyguard Musical, along with the current British cast, has made it’s way to Toronto.
Many of you have likely seen the 1992 movie The Bodyguard, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Houston played superstar singing diva Rachel Marron and Kevin Costner was the eponymous bodyguard Frank Farmer, who reluctantly protects his charge from a life-threatening stalker. It’s a thriller with a dose of romance. This West End stage adaptation follows the same story line which unfortunately, was never rich to begin with.
In this production British soul singer and stage actress Beverley Knight plays Rachel Marron and she brings a beautiful voice and confidence to the role. Stuart Reid plays Frank Farmer, but it’s a difficult role to critique as the character is written to be implacable, so even after the romance blooms, he still comes across as wooden. Remarkably, there was no visible chemistry between the two main characters and the relationship seems to come out of nowhere.
Frankly, all the characters in the stage production of The Bodyguard seem to be written quite flat, with a lack of character development and story detail. The actors seem to do the best with what they’re given, but all involved would have been better served with a meatier, more well-rounded plot and better dialogues to work with.
With songs including How Will I Know, So Emotional, Run to You, Saving All My Love and of course, one of the best–selling hits of all time, I Will Always Love You (which Knight sings wonderfully from the gut), the musical really works as a “best of” Whitney Houston concert, but if you’re a fan of her repertoire (and admittedly, these are some of her best hits) you’ll enjoy singing along, even if it’s in your head.
Knight does well to sing Houston’s hits in her own style, rather than trying to imitate the singer outright. Rachel John plays Marron’s shunted sister Nicki, which as it turns out, may be the most fleshed out role of the production. John is really quite convincing as the sister left in the dark, and it was quite satisfying that she has the vocal chops to equally shine beside her co-star.
One of my biggest pet-peeves about The Bodyguard was the accent work. It would have been far better had the British cast delivered their lines naturally, because their ‘putting on’ of American accents here is really bad.
Overall, this is a better production than I thought it would be, but it’s still not one of the best musicals you’ll experience (hopefully not anyway). Curtain call ends with the cast and audience singing I Wanna Dance with Somebody, which is a good way to ensure you leave the theatre singing the tunes and generally feeling good.
The Bodyguard is onstage now through May 14, 2017 and plays at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. For tickets, please visit: www.mirvish.com