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A CurtainUp London London Review
The Bodyguard

We are talking about a scared girl with a ten year old son. "Bill Devaney
The Bodyguard
Heather Headley as Rachel Marron
(Photo: Paul Coltas)
The trend to convert romantic films into stage musicals in London continues with Whitney Houston’s 1992 movie The Bodyguard starring Heather Headley. The show premiering in London has been called a jukebox musical because it takes Whitney’s successful songs and inserts them into the musical, but of course what this approach lacks is that each song will not progress the plot of the musical and the result may be forced or artificial. The other issue is that the male lead is not really a singer but following his occupation as a bodyguard. Although there is a scene in a karaoke bar when we hear him sing, this is not a romantic musical with tender duets.

Heather Headley is truly magnificent and a star completely in her own right having sung with Andrea Bochelli and is a leading lady in musicals on Broadway. Her soulful voice is simply wonderful. She was the originator of the Nala role in The Lion King. The songs from Heather’s character Rachel Marron take place at concerts and in a studio filming the Oscar ceremonies. However the confident Heather Headley doesn’t sound like Whitney Houston who had a vulnerable, emotional edge to her voice.

Lloyd Owen plays Frank Farmer who is employed to protect Rachel Marron after threatening messages are left in her dressing room. These are intercepted before she finds them. The opening scene has a dramatic opening gunshot as we prepare for the creepy stalker (Mark Letheren) who is invading Marron’s life. Ray Shell is her manager Bill Devaney, charged with finding someone to look after her security. Rachel’s sister Nicki (Debbie Kurup) is jealous of her sister’s success. Nicki has written some of the songs and falls for the bodyguard first.

Thea Sharrock has directed with cinematic shifts using designer Tim Hatley’s red lit, sliding apertures to change scenes. One scene is like an aerial view tracking the stalker. When the Oscar nominated song “Run to You” is sung, the lyrics appear with giant letters on hanging billboards. “I Have Nothing” closes Act One in a rousing finale. Mark Henderson’s lighting design takes its cue from lights for rock concerts.

Act Two sees Frank and Rachel in flagrante delicto and slowly there is a realisation that Frank has crossed boundaries but Rachel sings “All the Man I Need”. With her son (Malaki Paul) and sister, Frank takes Rachel to his father’s snow covered log cabin in the mountains but the stalker follows them and they are sitting ducks in this isolated place. Finally Rachel goes to the Academy Awards where she will perform her nominated song and where she has also been nominated as Best Actress. In an exciting scene with the red light of the rifle’s aiming point, the stalker will get into the Academy Awards venue and things will be very dangerous.

All the choreography takes place as backing to Rachel’s performing her songs. In the final scene, she will sing on a rising platform with lots of blue smoke with huge photographic images. At the Curtain Call there is another crowd pleasing song “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” with no relevance to the show.

Lloyd Owen’s American accent was fine for me and his is a strong, brooding macho presence and when he carries Rachel away from danger, we are rewarded with the iconic image from the movie. Both “sisters” sing exceptionally well and Heather Headley makes you believe she is the rather spoilt star but although the sounds are brilliant, the suspension of disbelief is a problem with this story.

The Bodyguard
Based on the Warner Brothers’ film
Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan
Book by Alexander Dinelaris
Directed by Thea Sharrock

Starring: Heather Headley, Lloyd Owen, Sean Chapman, Nicolas Colicos, Debbie Kurup, Gloria Onitiri, Oliver Le Suer, Mark Letheren, Mark McKerracher, David Page, Ray Shell, Robert Jezek, Gil Kourin, Janet Kumah, James Woolridge, Malaki Paul
Choreography by Arthur Pita
Set and Costume Design: Tim Hatley
Hair and Wigs: Campbell Young
Musical Supervisor: Mike Dixon
Dance Arrangements, and Musical Director: Gareth Valentine
Sound: Richard Brooker
Lighting: Mark Henderson
Musical Direction: Richard Beadle
Video Design: Duncan McLean
Orchestrations and Arrangements: Chris Egan
Running time: Two hours 30 minutes including one interval
Box Office: 0844 579 0094
Booking to 27th April 2013
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 4th December 2012 performance at The Adelphi Theatre, Strand, London WC2R 0NS (Rail/Tube: Charing Cross)
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Prologue
  • Queen of the Night
  • I'm Your Baby Tonight
  • Saving All My Love For You
  • So Emotional
  • Run To You
  • I Have Nothing (Act I Finale)
Act Two
  • All The Man I Need
  • I'm Every Woman
  • Jesus Loves Me
  • One Moment In Time
  • I Will Always Love You (Finale)
  • I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Curtain Call/Encore)
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