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A CurtainUp London Review
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.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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