Theatre Review: The Bodyguard – Palace Theatre, Manchester

The Bodyguard at Palace Theatre Manchester

Slick, sassy and superbly performed, Alexandra Burke excels in The Bodyguard

Few people can handle the power ballad classic I Will Always Love You like Whitney Houston, but Alexandra Burke is certainly one of them.

The three-time Brit nominee and X-Factor winner steals the show as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, belting out hit after hit in the award-winning musical.

Based on the smash-hit 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, The Bodyguard tells the story of superstar Rachel Marron who falls in love Frank Farmer, a former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard hired to protect her from an unknown stalker. The film was adapted for stage in 2012 and is currently touring the UK following its successful two-year run in London’s West End.

Slick, sassy and superbly performed, The Bodyguard is a stunning adaption of the breath-taking romantic thriller. Director Thea Sharrock puts together an adrenaline-fuelled show that is a cross between a pop concert, a musical and a night at the movies.

Tim Hatley’s set design cleverly focuses the audience’s attention with stark dividers used to section off parts, while Chris Egan’s slick orchestrations build a moody and menacing atmosphere. Add to this the high-energy back catalogue of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits including Queen of the Night, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love and I Wanna Dance With Somebody and you have slick, eye-opening spectacle.

Alexandra Burke is superb as Rachel Marron, the platinum-selling diva with Oscar ambitions. The 27-year-old singer belts out the difficult Whitney Houston’s songs with ease, coming close to her idol with the spine-tingling I Have Nothing and I Will Always Love You. Despite being a singer by trade, Burke acts competently and convincingly, bringing a warm, down-to-earth quality to her character.

Melissa James almost upstages her co-star as Rachel’s younger sister Nicki, wowing the audience with her effortless performance of Saving All My Love. Her duet of Run To You with Burke is equally divine with her soft, melodic tone contrasting sweetly against Burke’s rasping voice.

Stuart Reid plays the suitably stand-offish Frank Farmer, the bodyguard hired to protect Rachel. His hilarious rendition of I Will Always Love You easily gets the biggest laugh and he, along with baddie Mike Denman, create some nerve-jangling moments to keep the suspense and drama high.

Like the film, some elements of the stage version of The Bodyguard are a little cheesy in parts. The iconic scene where Farmer rescues Marron from a club is well staged but a little over dramatic and the use of video during the finale of I Will Always Loves You also feels a little out-of-place.

That said, The Bodyguard is a toe-tapping musical treat packed with amazing visual effects, elaborate costumes and stunning vocal performances from the cast. If you’re a fan of Whitney Houston or of the original film, you’re sure to enjoy it.

The Bodyguard runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 9 January 2016  

Reviewer: Donna Kelly | Image: Paul Coltas 

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