The BodyGuard Musical (UK Tour): Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Reviewed 15th May 2019
The smash-hit West End musical The BodyGuard is currently touring the UK wowing audiences with well loved hits including Queen Of The Night, One Moment In Time, Saving All My Love, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and I Will Always Love You. After a successful West End run and UK Tour Alexandra Burke returns to the role of superstar Rachel Marron who is being protected by an unknown stalker by former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer. Based upon the Warner Bros. film written by Lawrence Kasdan, with a book by Oscar-winner Alexander Dinelaris, this romantic thriller has been wowing audiences around the world since its 2012 premiere.
Opening to a full-scale concert performance featuring top notch dancing, flames bursting and vivid lighting, The BodyGuard quickly sets the tone for the evening. Alexandra Burke certainly knows how to perform as Rachel Marron and excels during the big show stopping numbers. Alexandra’s clever take on the songs, mixed with her tone of voice makes even the most well-known songs feel fresh. Her relationship with her onstage sister Nicki, played fantastically by Micha Richardson, is convincing and their vocals combine to make some much needed harmonies in what is fundamentally a one singer show. However, the relationship between Rachel and Frank Farmer, played by Benoît Maréchal, is slightly less dynamic and at times felt forced. Whilst it is a large cast, the ensemble do very little in this production other than act as backing dancers which seems a shame. Micha Richardson stands out as Nicki Marron; her dynamic acting and clear tone of voice really impresses.
The romantic thriller is well known by many fans and the musical stays true to the story shown in the film. It has been adapted and brought to the 21st century with mentions of Instagram and the use of mobile phones. The sinister, menacing stalker is played particularly well by Phil Atkinson and audible gasps can be heard from the audience whenever he appears which adds to the drama. However, at times some of the dramatic parts lack-lustre and almost feel anti-climatic, the ending in particular. Saying this, the overall plot is clearly told so will be straightforward to follow for fans of the film and equally for newcomers.
This production of The BodyGuard has clearly been heavily invested in with no expense spared. The lighting, well made set pieces, large scenery and the multiple costumes are all high quality and very effective. At some points the transitions between the scenes are overly long due to the ever changing scenery – perhaps having a simpler touring set may work better rather than the use of the large flats continually changing the set behind the performers. At times these transitions detracted from the story due to their length. The lighting, by Mark Henderson, is bright and colourful and yet dark and menacing at the same time. The use of the spot and blue-white light works particularly well to highlight the tense moments in the story. Costumes, designed by Tim Hatley, especially the Rachel Marron performing costumes, are beautifully constructed and work well with the lighting to create a high class concert appearance. The choreography, by Karen Bruce, is commercial and contemporary. It is energetic and fast-paced which works well for these particular musical numbers.
The BodyGuard uses projection a lot and most of the time this adds to the tension, particularly the videos of the stalker – allowing the audience to fully understand his motives and the imminent danger. The projections, designed by Duncan McLean, are well-produced and the actual videos themselves are of good quality but there are times when they do not really add to the production, and again add as a time filler during excessive costume or set changes.
The BodyGuard continues to be a hit with audiences and it is clear to see why. It manages to successfully mix a Whitney Houston style concert with a thrilling story. Audiences will be impressed by the glitz and glamour and the stunning vocals on offer. Whilst perhaps simplifying the show and stripping it back to its roots may give it more impact, it certainly is a brilliant night out. There is no doubt that by the end you’ll be on your feet clapping and dancing along!
The BodyGuard Musical runs at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until the 25th May 2019. For tickets and information click here. The UK tour then continues until February 2020. For information and venues click here.
Photo Credit: Paul Coltas