And I will always love The Bodyguard! The latest touring production of this powerful musical opened last night at the New Wimbledon Theatre, quite literally with a bang. (There may or may not have been light screams in the audience.)

Credit: Paul Coltas

The adaption of the 1992 movie starring the late Whitney Huston had its first performance in 2012, and the book by Alexander Dinelaris stays very close to the original script. Rachel Marron, a superstar in the music industry, is threatened by a stalker, and former Secret Service Agent Frank Farmer gets hired as her new head of security and personal bodyguard. What unfolds next is a very typical Hollywood romance fuelled by a bit anger, a bit of attraction, and headstrong protagonists – but somebody always leaves somebody.

As always with touring productions, I am impressed how fast cast and crew learn a new theatre. Although there were a couple of minor sound glitches and stage changes were a bit slow now and then, the performance did not have those typical touring vibes that some productions carry. Thea Sharrock and Tim Hatley do a good job in pulling it all together. The video design by Duncan McLean is as spot on as the lighting design by Mark Handerson. Technically a well-rounded production, I’d say.

Credit: Paul Coltas

I was seriously enjoying the opening performance of ‘Queen of the Night,’ where Melody Thornton displays the vocal quality that allows her to carry the majority of the musical performance throughout the show. As in the movie, the songs are woven in as Rachel’s performances – a night out in a karaoke bar or a family thing in a cosy hut. The Bodyguard even throws in extra songs that the original movie does not have (including a caricatured version of ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’ that is fun but does nothing for the show). I did not realise how good I was with the lyrics of all those Whitney Huston classics until last night.

Credit: Paul Coltas

In general, I felt the acting came a little short throughout the show. Everybody seems to wait for Rachel to burst into the next song. I appreciate that there is generally no serious character development in the movie, but the dynamics between the one-worded Frank Farmer and the diva Rachel Marron left no room for any chemistry that might have been between Thornton and Ayden Callaghan, who did his best to portray the stoic former agent. That judgement excludes Reno Kusi-Appauh who stole my heart in an instance and Emily-Mae whose voice gave me goosebumps and who gave a great – though not always likeable – Nikki Marron.

Another honourable mention is deserved by the dance ensemble. Karen Bruce’s choreography can be a lot at times and so much is going on. However, the quality of the dancing kept me focused and interested instead of overwhelmed.

Credit: Paul Coltas

The Bodyguard is a solid touring production and ideal for a night out with friends. The finale gets me every time and I absolutely enjoyed the atmosphere. The audience loved the performance and standing ovations were granted, followed by collective dancing to ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody.’

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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