The Bodyguard: the showstopper musical, filled with the stunning songs made famous by Whitney Houston. It’s here in Belfast till Saturday 16th February at the Grand Opera House.
The star of the show must be Alexandra Burke – a performer who has matured greatly since her X-Factor win, over 10 years ago in 2008. Since then she has been nominated for 3 BRIT Awards, had lead roles in Sister Act The Musical,Chess and Chicago, and been a Strictly Come Dancing runner up.
The role of the renowned fictional popstar Rachel Marron requires a powerhouse behind it, and Alexandra Burke certainly provides this with her wealth of experience over the last decade. Her husky but powerful voice that was so memorable from her Hallelujah X-Factor number one is still there, and if not improved. Not many could do justice to an artist such as Whitney Houston, whose hit songs are suitably integrated into the show.
Like the BBC serial drama of the same name, Frank Farmer, as Rachel’s bodyguard, is tasked with protecting the rich and famous, resulting in a similarly romantic and tragic tale. Fresh from the French run of the show, Benoît Maréchal provides a commanding portrayal of Farmer with an air of mystery and intrigue.
Alongside was Rachel’s sister, played by Micha Richardson, whose talent is also evident from her mellow solo numbers and pitch perfect harmonies alongside Burke, especially in Run to You. Special mention must also be given to the Rachel’s ten-year-old son Fletcher, played by Ethan March, who wowed audiences with his voice and natural performance.
Don’t come to the Opera House expecting a copycat of the 1992 film of Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. This show of West End origins departs from the film to provide a live musical performance, tailored to the impressive talents of Alexandra Burke, backed up with a terrific cast and dancers.
The production elements of the show deserve mention in their ability to bring life to such a well-known adaptation of the world-famous movie. Pyrotechnics, a simple but effective stage design, and lighting all only add to the individual style and energy of the musical.
The audience were clearly captured, feeling as if they were themselves starstruck fans of Rachel Marron, singing and moving along to her hit songs of I Will Always Love You and I Wanna Dance with Somebody.
The romance is peppered with fear in the form of the sadistic stalker, performed by Phil Atkinson. His regular and shadowy lurking at the back of the stage provides a clear threat throughout, the perfect bad guy for Farmer to try and vanquish from Rachel’s life.
While some may remark upon the simplistic, cheesy storyline, this can easily be overlooked thanks to the talents of all involved in this production. Alexandra Burke is a superb performer in her own right. She has a seemingly natural ability to give to light and shade in gentler numbers but also a belting voice in the well-known showstoppers.
This is a show worthy of high praise. A well-rounded cast bring a vivid performance to the Opera House and one that can only be recommended.