Anyone who knows me, understands just how much I love a sing-song.
Whether that’s while I’m driving, showering, cooking or irritating the life out of my colleagues in the office – I’m never more than half a beat away from exercising my vocal chords.
When I was given the chance to see The Bodyguard the musical, I was excited to see how a movie I have seen at least 10 times would translate on stage and if those humongous musical numbers might still pack the same amazing punch with Alexandra Burke taking the lead as opposed to the powerhouse that was, Whitney Houston.
I’ve never seen Burke in any of the other musicals she has performed in since her X factor days and had never been a huge fan of her subsequent singles and albums. However, I’ve always respected the fact that the woman can sing.
Seeing her in a different environment was interesting and to begin with her voice and demeanour was perfect for the role of complicated and demanding diva, Rachel Marron. However as the performance went on, as Burke spoke, it did start to sound like an over-egged impression of Whitney. In one particular scene with Burke and leading man Benoit Marechal – who plays bodyguard Frank Farmer – it felt like a contest of who could get their lines out the quickest.
Once my friend and I managed to get our heads around the majority of the casts’s clumsy and poorly executed American accents, we focused on what else the characters had to offer and I’m afraid that’s where more confusion came.
Firstly, if you’ve seen the movie – you’ll know that the stalker is really rather creepy and you get a sense he’s just an all round oddball and outcast. In the musical version however, we were met with a stalker (Phil Atkinson) who boasted a six pack and meticulously groomed appearance that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Love Island. His multiple shirtless appearances on stage, brought cheers and whooping rather than the fear and unease I assume one usually connects with stalking.
Sexy stalkers aside, Frank Farmer, the stoic but thoughtful former secret service agent turned bodyguard, enlisted to protect Rachel and her young son Fletcher (Archie Smith) after sinister notes find their way into her dressing room and home, is played by French performer Benoit Marechal. Having originally trained as a dancer, I’m sorry to say that his performance as Frank Farmer failed to provide little more than a monotone delivery of lines. Having said that, this did offer one of the few laughs in the show – as Frank takes to the mic in a karaoke bar, with the perfect song choice and offers a lovely moment between him and our leading lady. The chemistry between Burke and Marechal is palpable and during those more passionate scenes, it did feel as though it reverberated through out the audience.
Another element that impressed me over the course of the show was the set design. The audience was smoothly and effectively transported from a family home to a bluesy bar or a high energy nightclub. There were moments when I felt I was actually at a concert as opposed to watching a show in a theatre. There were a few dare I say it, naff moments, where screen projections were used that felt unnecessarily cheesy – the main example being during Rachel Marron’s final song where we see a massive image of Frank Farmer’s (Marechal) face, then Burke’s and then a flashback of the two in bed together. It felt like an odd moment where the production was at war with itself over whether it was in fact a piece of musical theatre or a movie.
Alexandra Burke’s vocal abilities remain unquestionable with her perfect performances of mega hits like Greatest Love of All, I Have Nothing, Run To You and of course the piece de resistance I Will Always Love You. It was a chill inducing moment and for all my gripes with the performance as a whole, I cannot fault the singing at all.
Special mentions must go to Micha Richardson who plays Rachel’s sister who struggles to find her own identity in the shadow of her globally successful sibling. Micha’s solo performance in the smoky atmospheric bar was a stand out scene for me and gave Burke a definitive run for her money in the singing department. Archie Smith’s portrayal of Fletcher was playful and I’ve no qualms about saying that his American accent might just have been the best across the cast.
If you love the music from the Bodyguard then you will enjoy this show – there were a number of moments where I was singing and dancing in and out of my seat. It’s a fun night out but not always for the reasons I’m sure the team behind The Bodyguard: the musical intended.
The Bodyguard: the musical is showing at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 20 July.
To book tickets click HERE or phone 0844 871 3014