Turning hit films into musicals seems to be de rigeur at present.
The Lion King, Shrek, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dirty Dancing, to name just a few, have found their way from the silver screen to the stage.
Another adaptation being brought to life before our eyes is The Bodyguard – based on the hit film with the late Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.
I’ve never seen the film – yes, I know, shame on me – but what I can say is that The Bodyguard is one of the best film-to-stage productions of them all.
Currently at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, it stars former X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Alexandra Burke as singer Rachel Marron, with Benoit Marechal as the titular character, Frank Farmer.
In brief, Rachel is a huge singing star, but receives a note from a stalker who has been in her dressing room. Fearing for her safety, Rachel’s management team hire Frank to be her bodyguard – much to her annoyance.
We follow the relationship between the pair as Frank goes to every length to protect the singer and her family, but the stalker, Daniel Wheeler, is never far away.
The songs are fantastic – Burke was a deserved winner of The X Factor, whose vocal abilities have never been in doubt, and brings the spoiled side of Rachel to life perfectly, before displaying human weakness and tenderness as she realises Frank’s intentions are for the best.
The cast bring together a number of famous Whitney Houston songs, with verve and class, and it’s a struggle to make sure you keep your mouth shut and not sing along. The live band are top notch – full plaudits to them too.
Marechal is fantastic as Frank. He has played the same part in the French version of the show, and brings a huge amount of charm to the role, with a real stage presence – it’s easy to believe he is indeed a former soldier.
He also manages to steal the show in one scene, when Frank takes Rachel to a karaoke bar. His choice of song is… inspired. I won’t say what it is, but it will have you laughing hard. An absolutely inspired moment in the script.
But what really shone for me was the staging. Considering the size of the stage, it convincingly portrayed a large music venue, different levels of Rachel’s sprawling mansion,
What helped was a brilliant framing device using curtains from above and the side, to lend a filmic quality to the production, narrowing our vision to a particular spot.
The stagehands are the unacclaimed stars of this show, as they achieve so much in a short space of time between scenes.
For a production that is so strong on its staging, for me, the only thing that let it down was, ironically, the presentation of its most famous song.
I Will Always Love You seemed to spend forever and a day at number one, although it was actually ten weeks, and is always associated with the film.
At the end, Rachel is left alone as Frank departs, and she makes her way to centre stage, as the dry ice begins to flow.
An image of Frank is beamed onto the curtain, as she sings to him. She stage rises as she sings the iconic number, but for me, this felt rather like, ironically for Alexandra Burke, an X Factor number. All that was missing was a choir and some candles. For me, it slightly cheapened the climax of an otherwise outstanding production.
However, things instantly pick up as the cast perform a sensational encore. Sadly, though, there’s no more of Benoit Marechal’s singing to finish it off. He really should have had the last word!
If you want a night out and you’re looking for a safe pair of hands, then The Bodyguard’s most definitely your show. If I was offered another chance to see it, I’d gladly take a bullet.
The Bodyguard is at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal until December 29.
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