After a two-year run in the West End the well-known screen to stage adaption The Bodyguard is currently on UK Tour.
I caught the show in Birmingham after watching it several times during its first year in the West End. The Bodyguard has always been about the songs, there’s no denying that. The show sells because the audience wants to hear all those popular Whitney tunes. So with that in mind I can’t fault the creative for reducing the tour production to a concert with some random scenes thrown in. The Bodyguard has never had a deep story but to me it feels like the last bits of proper narrative have been taken out of the tour production only to add even more songs turning the whole show into a two hours tribute concert.
Zoe Birkett stepped into “Whitney’s shoes” at my performance and she sure knew how to get the audience on her side. Her voice is powerful and her energy on stage is infectious. Acting wise her Rachel Marron lacks depth in my opinion but then there is not much left in the script to allow proper character development. Rachel Marron goes from “bitchy pop singer” to “scared woman” to “sweet lover” to “heartbroken sister” in the blink of an eye.
Stuart Reid plays Frank Farmer – the bodyguard – with an almost stoic calmness. And while he sure has the stage presence he too is given little chance to show the audience more than a glimpse of Frank’s personality. His take on “I will always love you” wins hands down for the most hilariously awkward rendition of that song in history though and is one of the few moments in the show where he actually gets to stand out. Most of the time he is nothing more than a side figure – only there to exchange a line or two with Rachel Marron before the next song.
Melissa James is likeable as Nicki Marron and “Run to you” with Zoe Birkett is one of the truly glorious moments of the show. But just like anyone else apart from Rachel Marron the character is left standing in a corner with no chance to develop. Sadly this meant I felt little sympathy for Nicki and her tragic end.
The rest of the cast does a fine job with the material they have been given. Mike Denman is suitably evil as The Stalker and one has to give him credit for spending half the show lurking around on stage with no shirt and actually making this look scary. I do not agree with cutting The Stalker’s song in this production as it takes away from yet another supporting role and makes the show even more into a Rachel Marron solo concert. However, Mike provides some of the few truly gripping moments in the show and gets the chance to let out his inner “psycho” which – judging by the audience’s reaction – he is doing with much success.
All in all the show is doing well giving the general public what they want. After all the audience expects Whitney songs when they book tickets for The Bodyguard and Whitney songs is what they get. And the fact that the story has been lost on the way means little when everyone leaves the theatre with a smile on their face.
The Bodyguard is continuing to tour the UK. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.thebodyguardmusical.com/.