Based on the 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner and featuring songs from the original soundtrack as well as Houston’s other back catalogue it would be easy to dismiss The Bodyguard as another jukebox musical but it is a lot more thoughtful than most musicals that rely on familiarity with the material. Firstly, it has Thea Sharrock at the helm, Thea is not only a huge Whitney fan but an experienced theatre director and formerly artistic director of the ever innovative Southwark Playhouse. For me it didn’t feel like a musical but a play with music, used effectively rather than for the sake of it.
When I saw it in November 2013 Whitney Houston had died the year before, with Headley stating since that she had been reluctant to do the role after Whitney’s death, but Knight never made us feel we were watching a Houston substitute. Knight is fantastic performer in her own right and I regret not getting to see her at the London Palladium in May 2016. Beverley Knight was very much at the start of her acting career when we saw her and I am excited to see how she has developed as an actress, after appearances in Memphis and Cats.
We cannot forget the importance of the role made famous by Costner; Frank Farmer, I saw it with Tristian Tremmell and the revival sees Ben Richards take over the role. Unlike like a lot of male support roles there isn’t much singing but this is very much Marron’s show and the focus is on her. I hope Knight can bring the chemistry she had with Tremmell at Dominion Theatre.
I don’t often rave about musicals but even if you are indifferent or unfamiliar with the film getting to see a talent of Knight’s calibre live every night is rare. The Bodyguard at the Dominion Theatre is definitely one of my recommendations for 2016.