Monday, April 22

The Bodyguard: The Musical – New Wimbledon Theatre

If you have ever wondered what it would be to be one of those people in the crowd in a concert in a movie, wonder no more: this show’s got you covered. On fire and starting with a bang.

Under the incredible direction of Thea Sharrock, The Bodyguard the Musical invites us to enjoy more than two hours in this jukebox musical where the audience goes through many of Whitney Houston’s music hits, intertwined with the story of the namesake movie in which it’s inspired. With a rock-solid main cast, every single one of them performing to their strengths, Sharrock seizes every opportunity available to thrill us. The show has one blow of effect after another.

Melody Thornton, in her role as Rachel Marron, pays a great homage to the memory of the late Houston, with impressive versions of the singer’s hits, and a very heart-warming performance. Ayden Callaghan, playing Frank Former, is an example of “less is more” in acting. Stealing laughter from the audience with minimal effort, he allows the character to live and the situations to shine with humility and consistency in what could have easily been quite a boring role. Even when singing, he makes a virtuous transition in a matter of seconds to show the commitment of his character to the situation. The appearance of Marios Nicolaides as The Stalker is a bit rough around the edges, but even if a little stiff, it makes for a perfectly good psycho, and a good counterpoint to Callaghan’s charm.

Special mention goes to the bewitching performance of Emily-Mae. Every time she appears on stage, magic comes with her. With a bedazzling and bewitching voice, charm, charisma and emotion, the role of Nikki is a cornerstone of this show. The whole theatre roars when she comes to salute on stage at the end of the show. Her voice is flawless, subtle, nuanced and powerful at the same time, and her performance as a suffered woman living in the shadow of her sister is nothing but touching. Also, the appearance of Fletcher, played by the incredibly young and talented Reneo Kusi-Appauh, is noteworthy for its fun and relaxed performance.

The rest of this big cast performs equally impressively. As expected from such a large production, the impressive technical aspect, from the very beginning, is blinding with colors, tight in timing and very detailed down to the minutia in every aspect. The dancing numbers, the short and well-paced scenes between the songs, the beautiful and eye-catching costumes, and the video sync with live scenes that provides with a daunting effect every time. Even simple (but very theatrical) decisions, like having most of the cast on-stage to perform a scene in slow motion to enhance suspense will help to submerge the spectator into this story. The music that appears in action sequences to provide ambience is very tactfully used and does nothing but to enhance the experience.

All that being said, this theatre play is an excuse to enjoy beautiful songs. But it’s a very good excuse, and the music is very good. The orchestra, directed by Sam Hall, will get your heart pumping. The sound is very well balanced, between the intimate, soft songs, the chest-pounding concert scenes, and even the out-of-tune karaoke singers. Every detail has been taken care of to make this a better setting to enjoy the main dish: songs, songs, and more songs.

Heart-stopping, tear-shedding, mind-blowing, this is a show for a night with a whole lot of fun.

Playing until 11th March, get your tickets HERE!

Reviewer: Gonzalo Sentana

Reviewed: 6th March 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

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