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The Bodyguard - Adelphi Theatre (review)

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FORGET ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Adelphi Theatre’, The Bodyguard has a far more dramatic way of capturing the attention of its audience. And once captured, it becomes a willing slave to all that ensues.

The Bodyguard is, of course, the stage adaptation of the classic Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner film of the same name and showcases the songs made famous by Houston. And who better to deliver them on stage than the Queen of British Soul, Beverley Knight.

She is quite simply superb as Oscar-nominated superstar Rachel Marron, whose life is endangered by a psychopathic stalker. Enter Frank Farmer, a former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard hired to protect her and her young son. Each expects to be in charge but, in this story that deviates slightly from the film version, neither expects to fall in love.

Knight, here making her West End debut, not only delivers numbers such as Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and the mesmerizing I Will Always Love You in spectacular fashion, she can also act, so it’s impossible not to empathise with her character, whether as a mother, a diva, a lover or a terrified young woman.

The success of The Bodyguard also depends very much on the actor playing Farmer and at yesterday evening’s performance (Saturday, February 22, 2014) the onus fell upon understudy Stuart Reid. Having expected Tristan Gemmill in the role I was frankly (excuse the pun) disappointed.

However, my initial fears were quickly dispelled and much like Rachel, I was soon captivated by the young man in question. His karaoke rendition of I Will Always Love You was a delight though for all the wrong reasons but to say more would spoil it for those of you who haven’t already seen the show – and this I would certainly urge you to do as rumour has it that it’s to close at the Adelphi Theatre in August.

Special mention must also go to Carole Stennett as Rachel’s sister Nicki – here not quite the villain we’ve come to expect – who can certainly hold her own in a duet with Knight.

As you would expect from a West End production, set and costume design (Tim Hatley), choreography (Arthur Pita) and lighting (Mark Henderson) are second to none. And without exception, the cast deliver the goods. All of which makes this production a feast of visual and auditory entertainment.

One last thing, a theatre ticket doesn’t always come cheap (mine cost £66.50 plus a £1 Restoration Levy), so you hope you’ll get value for your money. Have no fear, as I’ve already indicated, The Bodyguard won’t disappoint. At yesterday evening’s performance, it was enthusiastically received by the audience, earning itself a well-deserved standing ovation. And that, coming from a paying public, says a great deal.