West End: The Bodyguard
We take a look at the stage adaptation of Whitney Houston's classic film.
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The Bodyguard is Whitney Houston’s 1992 hit film, about an Oscar-nominated singer who finds herself stalked by a jealous, obsessive fan. The film grossed some $410m in cinemas, and its soundtrack became the best selling movie soundtrack of all time.
But as anyone who has been to the West End in the past ten years knows, a classic film or a few pop anthems is no prerequisite to a great musical. In fact, frequently they make for hectic and uncomfortable musicals, desperately trying to crowbar in that old hit we still love - bypassing that we never loved Zigazig Ah for its compelling emotional narrative.
The Bodyguard, thankfully, is not in this category. This musical starts with the advantage that it is adapted from a film renowned for its music. The producers made a wise decision to shift the focus in its stage adaptation, bringing Whitney’s classics to the foreground of the story. Along with a very hunky man, in Lloyd Owen, who plays the bodyguard.
The original film has a rating of 39% from those discerning critics who write in to Rotten Tomatoes. And the plot does have some peculiar contradictions. Rachel Marron, Whitney’s character, is originally perturbed by her new bodyguard’s draconian attitude to public engagements, or rather restriction of. Then, twenty minutes later, he is swigging beer and putting the threatened star on stage in a karaoke bar. We did scratch our head, but then lust makes men do strange things. So we’ll let it pass.
What sells The Bodyguard is its outstanding stage proficiency. This show is like peering inside Mary Poppins’ handbag, as whole houses appear from nowhere; staging transformed in a matter of moments and without a sound. There is something distinctly magical to its presentation; something magical that gives it an illuminating, cinematic feel.
That’s not to mention the abundance of Whitney classics. One Moment In Time, I’m Every Woman, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and an unforgettable rendition of I Will Always Love You.
And as for its men – GT’s foremost consideration – The Bodyguard doesn’t disappoint. Though it is frustratingly short of nudity, the opportunity to stare at Lloyd Owen for two hours is second to none. If you’re not familiar, Google him. Immediately. And then take a moment to appreciate his rugged beauty. We’re backing him for James Bond.
The Bodyguard isn’t the cheapest show to see in the West End at the moment – but it is worth every penny. The acting is first-rate – starring Grammy award winning Heather Headley and, from Rent, Debbie Kurup. The singing is so akin to Whitney, you could be forgiven for thinking she’d come back for one last show.
To get your tickets (and we 100% think you should) check out The Bodyguard website
Words: Benjamin Butterworth