Monday 26th November 2012
With the West End currently packed out with "jukebox" musicals - Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You, Jersey Boys, Let It Be, Rock of Ages, Thriller Live - it would seem there is little room to add to the array with yet more shows devised from the back catalogue of a popular artist. However the end of 2012 sees two new shows in this genre hitting the bright lights of London without a note of new music between them, the Spice Girls' Viva Forever, and this celebration of Whitney Houston's career The Bodyguard.
With the book based on the original film of the same name, this musical needed no thought process or imagination at all and so has hit the stage in particularly swift development time. The designers however have not rested on their laurels, and have come up with an interesting and dramatic staging that keeps the audience gripped throughout. Modern, slick and innovative, some scenes are genuinely captivating, with unassuming and yet breathtaking effects.
The talent on display also produce moments of surprisingly gripping theatre - with the scenes in the woods absorbing my attention until my knuckles were white with tension. Heather Headley as Rachel Marron was beautiful, with a voice that did complete justice to the original pop diva version of each of her numbers. Lloyd Owen's composed title character was equally charming, remaining believably professional but betraying just enough heart-melting confliction of emotion.
Neither a particular fan of the original film, nor at all a fan of Whitney Houston herself, The Bodyguard should not have impressed me. But I actually really enjoyed it.