BWW Review: Whitney saves THE BODYGUARD at Palais Des Sports
The blockbuster film is the source for this 2 dimensional musical. The plot is quite slim...a deranged fan threatens pop star, a bodyguard is hired to protect her, they fall in love, pop star belts out a song, the end. Even in with this flimsy plot, heart and connection is possible. Luckily, for this musical, it has the Whitney Houston Songbook. For anyone who grew up in the late 80's and 90's, Whitney Houston is part of their life's soundtrack. (I am one of them) Her extraordinary voice instantly tells you let loose on the dance floor. With songs like "Greatest Love of All," "So Emotional," "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," "Run to You," "I Have Nothing" and "One Moment In Time" this empty book is lifted up, in some ways it is lifted by the spirit of Whitney herself. For these songs are and will forever be Houston's. I am sure that the original producers of this show were quite aware of this, as they had announced a West End opening the same month Houston died suddenly in 2012.
This musical finds its heart when Cylia who plays Nikki Marron starts to sing. Ms. Cylia possesses a luscious voice that wraps itself around the notes and lyrics and delivers them with purity and warmth. She is a joy to look at and hear. Valerie Daure who has the weighty job of stepping into Ms. Houston's shoes does an admirable job. She sings with power and freedom. She also melodically changes some songs which is lovely to hear and helps make these iconic songs more personal. Another notable actor is the young gentleman that played Fletcher, Rachel's son. His joy and exuberance filled the Palais des Sports.
I also tip my hat off to the dancers in this show. They work their butts off jumping from salsa dancers, club-goers, hip-dancers, terrible karaoke singers and other bit parts. They are real champs. After the final bow, the full cast performed "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" which turned the vast Palais des Sports into a intimate dance party. It was a fun way to be ushered onto the streets of Paris.
All in all, I would recommend seeing this production of The Bodyguard. It was well staged, choreographed and lit. The musical theatre is growing in Paris and The Bodyguard is a sign of things to come.