Review Roundup: THE BODYGUARD Musical Opens in London
Heather Headley and Lloyd Owen lead the cast in new musical The Bodyguard, directed by Thea Sharrock. Other cast members include Debbie Kurup, Mark Letheren, Ray Shell, Nicolas Colicos, Mark McKerracher, Sean Chapman, David Page and Oliver Le Sueur. They are joined by Luis Buddy, Caius Duncombe, Jayden Fowora Knight, Kwame Kandekore, Taylor Lockhart and Malakai Paul who will share the role of Fletcher, Rachel Marron's young son. Ensemble members are Nigel Barber, Jordan Darrell, Yasmin Harrison, Shanay Holmes, Holly James, Robert Jezek, Melissa Keyes, Gil Kolirin, Janet Kumah, Nick Maude, Richard Murphy, Gloria Onitiri, Ashley J Packer, Dharmesh Patel, Lucinda Shaw, Paul Smethurst, Charlotte Watts and James Wooldridge.
Based on Lawrence Kasdan's 1992 Warner Bros. film, this brand new musical of The Bodyguard, with book by Alex Dinelaris, opens at the Adelphi Theatre on December 5 2012.
Check out what the critics had to say:
Libby Purves of The Times states: Twenty years ago I dozed off, despite the racket, in the Whitney Houston movie about a pop diva falling for her bodyguard, Kevin Costner. Its only residue was the tendency, shared by many, to croon "Ayeeeeee will always love youuuuu" in the bath; that song was never off the radio. But behold! A new musical gives throbbing new life to that thin story, half gig, half thriller.
Michael Coveney of whatsonstage writes: Film fans will love the plethora of numbers, Arthur Pita's electric musical staging and hyperbolic show-time routines, Debbie Kurup's fine performance as Rachel's jealous sister, and will be relieved that Sean Chapman, not Gary Kemp, is playing the PR man.
Charles Spencer of the Telegraph says: In fact, director Thea Sharrock has done a remarkable job. Her production, spectacularly and ingeniously designed by Tim Hatley, is far more enjoyable than the movie. And there is a thrilling star performance from the Trinidad-born, American-based singer and actress Heather Headley, who, when it comes to selling a song, hitting the high notes and ornamenting a number with vocal swoops and trills, struck me as being at least as fine a singer as Houston in her heyday, if not even better.
Peter Brown of London Theatre Guide writes: In Lloyd Owen's excellent Frank Farmer, we find a rather solitary man, who appears to have a past which he would rather forget. Formerly a Secret Service agent he is dependable, cautious and quietly confident. Lloyd Owen sensibly handles the American accent by keeping it light, so it never irritates or fades. Heather Headley has a wonderful singing voice, but she is also a very capable actress and I never found her lacking in authenticity or believability.
The London Evening Standard has this to say: Heather Headley is mesmerising in this stage version of the early Nineties film that starred the late Whitney Houston as diva Rachel Marron. The movie's soundtrack has sold 45 million copies and here is bolstered by some of Whitney's other big hits, which seem fresh and urgent, thanks to Headley's resonant and at times velvety voice.
Michael Billington of the Guardian has this to say: Heather Headley as Rachel also projects her numbers with ear-pounding force and suggests the vulnerable woman under the iron carapace of the superstar. Lloyd Owen is commendably laconic as Frank without ever quite suggesting he's a westernised samurai and Debbie Kurup is so skittishly beguiling as the superstar's sibling I kept wondering why on Earth The Bodyguard didn't run off with her.
Paul Taylor of the Independent writes: The Bodyguard manages to fall simultaneously into two pretty suspect categories – the screen-to-stage adaptation and the jukebox musical. But the show is an altogether more pleasurable experience than that doubly dubious distinction might make it sound.
Quentin Letts of the Mail Online reports: Director Thea Sharrock gives us so many scene changes, it's like being on a train. That incessant movement may take the audience's mind off some clunky story-telling. One belting ballad quickly yields to another, all sung at top whack. There is just about enough plot to provide the bones for the drama. If my remarks sound grudging for a four-star show, that is perhaps because the thing is so shamelessly a Hollywood rip-off.
Matt Wolf of the artsdesk says: For some, the opportunity to hear the Houston songbook re-packaged will be enough, and the show to some extent renders critical discourse as irrelevant as the likes of the West End Ghost, Dirty Dancing, and Flashdance did before it. Thea Sharrock's production is better than the above-named trio, largely due to the coolly commanding Headley... and to a physical production that is simultaneously sleek and slick, its cinematic dissolves tipping a nod to the celluloid source. Tim Hatley's design offers up moneyed chic, Oscar-night glitz, and the rural appeal of a log cabin retreat, all with an effortlessness not glimpsed elsewhere.
William Russell of the Herald Scotland says: Heather Headley belts out the Houston numbers superbly and, for good measure, there is Debbie Kurup as her sister Nikki doing the same. Both are well worth listening to – and looking at. Lloyd Owen is handsome, and while not in the Costner blue collar and jeans league, every bit as good at playing a block of wood – and he does get to sleep with Rachel, which is more than Kevin did. There is one surprise: guess who gets to sing I Will Always Love You first?
Mark Shenton of the Stage writes: The show, meanwhile, could have audiences running to the Adelphi for lots of reasons - a recognisable title and a back catalogue that are effectively mapped to that existing story. So it ticks all the boxes for an example of a show that Mamma Mia!'s advertising slogan epitomises: 'You already know you're gonna love it.'