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Review: The Bodyguard at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Review: The Bodyguard at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff {Cardiff Theatre and Shows}


theatre review the bodyguard 2019

Exploding on to the stage with a bang (literally...me and my friend Bran nearly jumped out of our skin..you'll see what I mean if you go), The Bodyguard opens with a magnificent performance from Alexandra Burke as Rachel Marron. With some seriously impressive stage presence, Burke establishes instantly that Rachel is a superstar, an icon, a diva; you feel like you've been dropped in the thick of it at a big stadium gig.

I've never seen the original 1992 film of the Bodyguard with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, nor had I read into how they adapted it to the stage. I thought the only song I'd recognise was 'I Will Always Love You', so I was beyond ecstatic to read through the track listing and see I knew and adored every single song. "How Will I Know", "One Moment in Time", "So Emotional", "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"...all the top Whitney Houston hits. Alexandra Burke sang the ballads with incredible power and confidence, but for me it was the upbeat performances which really made the show. Think smoke machines, fire, confetti, energetic choreography, a lot of very fit backing dancers, a dozen outfit changes and some really interesting use of lighting effects. It was all thoroughly entertaining.

theatre review the bodyguard 2019

If, like me, you've never seen the film, the story is very simple and easy to follow. World famous star Rachel Marron starts to receive threatening letters from a stalker, leading to a bodyguard (Frank Farmer, played by Benoît Maréchal) being hired to protect her. Predictably, after initially not getting along very well, they fall in love. Add into the mix themes of sibling rivalry (Rosie Cava-Beale as Rachel's long suffering sister stood her own with her strong, unique voice), jealousy, mystery, plus a lot of tension and you have a decent enough plot to carry the songs pretty seamlessly. It was well-paced and engaging with much more humour than expected; my friend and I weren't bored at any point. Someone had told me there had been bad reviews, but on an internet search I couldn't find much of this, perhaps it was word of mouth, but everyone I chatted to after the show seemed to have loved it as much as we did.

For the two of us, Rachel's young son Fletcher (Lemar Bucknor Jr.) stole the show whenever he came on, with his contagious smile and confident dance moves for someone so little. The mother and son relationship was the one that I felt most invested in, their love was portrayed as so deep, gentle and believable, whereas the romantic love story did fall a bit flat, most likely due to how one-dimensional the character of the Bodyguard was. Though they tried to explain some of his backstory, I just didn't empathise with him very much and found his character a bit dull. I'm not sure if he's like this in the film, maybe he's supposed to be like that, but I wasn't sure what Rachel saw in him if I'm honest!

theatre review the bodyguard 2019

It has to be mentioned, last but not least, that Tim Hatley's staging and incorporation of sliding panels (used throughout to depict a zoom effect or to isolate and frame parts of the stage, particularly effective in heightening the emotion in some scenes) was so well done. Being based on a film you could tell they wanted it to feel very cinematic and they achieved this. Some of the use of slow motion and video was a bit cheesy - I'm fine with a bit of cheese, but the montage near the end with Frank's face very large on the screen did make me laugh, it was a bit much!

Burke's rendition of 'I Will Always Love You' was a memorable highlight, seeing her elevated up from the crowd and demonstrating the strength of her vocal abilities. I think a lot of people like me were nervous to see if she could pull it off, but she definitely did. The atmosphere in the building was electric by the end. I'd definitely look out for her in other roles in the future (though I had a quick google and apparently she's going back to the recording studio and not doing musicals for a while, so grab one of the last available Bodyguard tickets now if you can!).

cardiff bay wales millennium centre
Pre-show drinks with my girl! Rosé and this view...got to love the Bay :D

Some tickets for the Bodyguard are still available and the show is here until 27th April, click here to see what else is on. You can also call the box office to enquire on 029 2063 6464.

I'll be at Calendar Girls in April next, so excited as it looks to be a right laugh :) and have bought tickets for Les Mis and We Will Rock You! Absolutely can't wait.

(Disclosure: I was invited to the press launch event for The Bodyguard).

theatre review the bodyguard 2019

Coming up at the WMC:

whats on in cardiff wales millennium centre theatre

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