“a force to be reckoned with”
If you want to know what a good jukebox musical is, look no further than the current UK Tour of The Bodyguard.
Jukebox musicals, as a whole, don’t really appeal to me. I wasn’t of the generation to really appreciate music by Tina Turner, Carole King or Michael Jackson to be drawn to see Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, or Thriller.
I have seen Mamma Mia! Inspired by Abba music, Motown the Musical, inspired by the music of the entire Motown genre, and Jersey Boys – the story of Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, and only one of these I thought was particularly good. Far too often, jukebox musicals lose any sense of story and become tiresome.
The Bodyguard, however, is in a top league of jukebox musicals, alongside Jersey Boys. Not only are the songs by Whitney Houston incredible and enjoyable to listen to, they are also emotional and contribute to the story that was created around the hits.
In addition to this, when you have a cast as strong as the current UK Tour of The Bodyguard, you can’t go wrong. Alexandra Burke is phenomenal in all three disciplines in this show. Her voice is a powerhouse when necessary, and also soft and smooth in some lighter numbers. I will never forget the goosebumps I got during “I Will Always Love You” as she, in her sparkly blue dress, is elevated on a platform on the stage.
Alexandra’s relationship with Lemar Bucknar Jr., who shares the role of playing her ten-year-old son Fletcher with five other boys, is infectious, heartfelt and believable. Throughout the show we see Alexandra’s character, Rachel Marron, go through a wide range of emotions – love and heartbreak, fear and loss to say the least – and Alexandra Burke is flawless in all of these. Her dancing is also outstanding and I literally couldn’t take my eyes off her as she effortlessly moved across the stage in some of those intense and high-energy routines.
Benoît Maréchal as Frank Farmer – The Bodyguard – was enjoyable to watch on stage. As a closed off character, he is hard to read, but his dry sense of humour wins the audience over. He neither sings nor dances, but despite this, still creates a huge impact on that large stage in the Donald Gordon Theatre.
The role of Nicki Marron at last night’s performance was played by understudy Rosie Cava-Beale. She, much like her sister in the show, goes through a lot of emotion, and Rosie portrays this well. Her vocals weren’t as strong as I’d hoped during her solo and some of her duets, but nonetheless, she gave a great performance.
Supporting roles from Craig Berry as Tony, Peter Landi as Bill, Gary Turner as Sy, and Phil Atkinson as The Stalker all contribute to a wonderful show. The ensemble in this production are also a force to be reckoned with. They are the ones who keep the energy of the show up at all times, create the real atmosphere in the room and never stop delivering while on stage.
The special effects in The Bodyguard were truly exciting, too. With fire, smoke, gun shots, and flashing lights, there’s not a minute of this show I didn’t enjoy. The slow motion that was used at times was also noteworthy, as it made certain aspects of the show very clear, that could otherwise have been confusing.
Especially by the end during the final bows to Houston’s iconic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, The Bodyguard is hugely entertaining and a brilliantly put-together show. Between the whole cast and creative team, it is one of the best shows on tour in the UK at the moment. You’ll be on your feet and leave the theatre with hit after hit from the Queen of the Night herself in your head.