Thank you to the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) for our press tickets to Bodyguard the musical which is now showing at the WMC Cardiff until Saturday 27th April.
Review: Bodyguard the Musical at the WMC
Having seen the ultra talented Alexandra Burke previously in the hilarious Sister Act the musical, I was beyond excited to have the chance to see her back at the WMC. This time she is playing a more serious role as the star, Rachel Marron, in the musical production of the Bodyguard. A role played by the iconic Whitney Houston in the blockbuster film, which first hit the screen in 1992.
I’m showing my age now, but I couldn’t believe it was 27 years ago that I first saw the film! A film that I, along with most of the nation, absolutely loved. I also remember we couldn’t get enough of the song “I Will Always Love You” which retained its number one position in the charts for fourteen weeks.
But for those of you that may have missed it, the story is about a superstar Rachel Marron who begrudgingly hires bodyguard Frank Farmer at the request of her manager, as unbeknown to her she is receiving threatening letters from a psychopath. As the pair spend so much time together, the inevitable happens and they fall in love.
Now you will know if you’ve read any of my previous reviews, that I’m a tad bit sceptical about the whole movie to musical trend. So whilst I was excited to be seeing Burke belt out Whitney, I was less sure about how the story would pan out and adapt to the stage. But I needn’t have worried, as it was fantastic. So much so that it is one of the few musicals I have seen that I would go and see again the very next night if I could.
Bodyguard the musical plays homage to the film and encapsulates the magic of it beautifully. The knockout singing, the smouldering romance and the suspense of the movie is all there. There are some subtle differences to the film and there is a little more humour (I don’t remember much humour in the film at all) which helped give it its own stamp and stopped the inevitable comparisons.
Burkes fellow lead, Benoît Maréchal, who plays bodyguard Frank Farmer, is a quiet type who is naturally charming. There are subtle hints of his french accent which come through whilst trying to sound more american, but for me, he ends up playing the role more like a Clint Eastwood than a Kevin Costner which worked for me. Burke was not as stroppy or spoilt as Whitney in the role which perhaps made the love affair more believable than that in the film. The chemistry between them was there and at the end you were routing for them to stay together, so much so I even had a tear in my eye.
Whilst the story and the acting were faultless, it is the singing that took centre stage. It was like watching a star in a sell out concert whilst having front row seats. Burke was nothing short of spectacular. She belted out Whitney song after song flawlessly. I was seriously in awe. To listen to Burke sing “I Have Nothing”, “Run to You”, “Queen of the Night” and the finale “I Will Always Love You” to a live orchestral backing was phenomenal.
The only other singer of the night was Rosie Cava-Beale who played Rachel’s sister Nikki. She held her own next to Burke which was no mean feat and it was nice to have another dimension to the singing.
Whilst I could go on and on about how amazing Burke was, it is also worth mentioning the staging and the choreography, as these too were very impressive. The staging was clever and sleek with seamless transitions from scene to scene. Whilst I wasn’t 100% sure about the video recordings of the stars used as some of the backdrops, I did think these tied in nicely to the movie.
There wasn’t much dancing, as this was only really in the parts where Rachel was in concert, but when there was it was fantastic with impressive synchronised timing. I also loved the slow motion effect in the action scenes which was cleverly done and created a bit of drama.
The whole show really is a hit which ticks every box you would hope for in a musical. If I was you I’d be grabbing my tickets now while Burke is the lead, as I’m really not sure who else could pull it off as well as she did. All I can say is – I’m star struck and whatever she is in next time I’ll be queuing up to get my tickets.
Bodyguard the Musical is at the WMC and is showing until 27th April 2019.
Booking at: www.wmc.org.uk
Thank you to Wales Millennium Centre for inviting us to the press night of Bodyguard the Musical.
All photos courteous of the WMC.