So a few weeks ago I was acting all nonchalant and indifferent about the fact that The Bodyguard was being made into a musical. Although I planned to see it, I made it clear that I wasn’t a huge fan of the film to begin with, and my only intention was to satisfy a pang of nostalgia I’ve been feeling since Whitney passed away. And yet, last Friday I found myself feverishly anticipating the show as I headed to the Adelphi Theatre in sub zero temperatures.
The performance started just after 7.30 and it literally started with a bang. Broadway veteran, Heather Headley, plays the role of Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) and wasted no time in letting the audience know that she meant business setting the proceedings with a rousing rendition of soft rock belter Queen of The Night. As the mostly middle aged/middle class audience clapped along in unison, Headley confidently strutted across the stage in a fitted pair of satin trousers and embellished bustier. From that moment I knew I was in for a great time.
The theatre production stays faithful to the original romantic thriller about a pampered pop star whose life is endangered by a violent stalker and is forced to rely upon the services of a stoic, uptight bodyguard. As the drama unfurls, the two predictable fall in love and embark on a tumultuous relationship set against a backdrop of some pretty heart pounding ballads.
I have to say, the casting was spot on. Before I get to Heather, I have to give props to Lloyd Owen who brought humour and humanity to the part of bodyguard, Frank Farmer. Actress Debbie Kurup blew me away with her portrayal of the shy, timid sister, Nicki Marron, who suffers from a huge bout of envy and inferiority complex after years of playing second fiddle to her superstar sis. The character of Nicki is given more of an in-depth role in the theatre production and Kurup really shines, almost reducing to tears with her soul stirring renditions of Whitney classics. The baddie, played by Mark Letheren, was awesome. He displayed the right amount of menace and insanity to the point where I found myself recoiling as he stood intensely pointing a gun at the audience as the infrared light made it’s way to our aisle during the climatic finale at the Oscars. And as for Heather Headley, *sigh*… there really aren’t enough plaudits I can bestow upon this living embodiment of excellence. There aren’t many vocalists who can stand shoulder to shoulder with (heyday) Whitney, but Ms Headley does so seemingly effortlessly. Although the two singers don’t sound in any way alike, they have the ability to melt hearts with the power, tone, emotion and conviction of their vocals. Add to that, Heather brought a little homegirl sass, charisma and vulnerability to the role first portrayed by Nippy. It’s funny, because I read in an interview on the Daily Mail website that she initially didn’t want to take the role because she was concerned that people would think she was exploiting Whitney’s death. The producers apparently had to persuade her to come out of semi-retirement, and I’m so glad she did. This woman was born for the stage.
The show is 2 hours and 25 minutes long and whizzes by in flash. It’s brought up to date with video visuals, an elaborate set stage and some slick choreography. The most pleasantly surprising element of the show? The audience is treated to not just Whitney’s songs from the soundtrack, but virtually of all of her hit records. Tracks like ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, ‘How Will I Know’ ‘One Moment In Time’, ‘All At Once’, are all threaded into the narrative, producing the perfect tribute to the singer who left us not even a year ago. I couldn’t help but thinking how much she would’ve loved to have seen it. Rest in perfect peace, Whitney.
As you can tell, I LOVED this show, even more than I enjoyed the film. It’s showing until April 2013, so book your tickets as soon as, and let me know what you think
The Bodyguard is showing at the Adelphi Theatre www.adelphitheatrelondon.com