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The Bodyguard - Norwich Theatre Royal (28.08.2023)

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

What The Bodyguard lacks in theatrical clout, it makes up with the sheer strength of the musical numbers. At times, you could completely forget you were watching a piece of theatre and just immerse yourself in some of Whitney Houston's finest hits.

This was probably for the best given the depth of the plot, which sees the main character of Rachel Marron start as an entitled pop diva and end the show in much the same way, despite having witnessed some terrible things. Thankfully, Zoe Birkett's powerhouse vocal performance was enough to distract from the horrible flaws in her character.

The same unfortunately couldn't be said about the bodyguard himself, Frank Farmer. Played stoically by Ayden Callaghan, he lacks any real warmth, making it all the more unfathomable that two women fall head over heels in love with him after little more than a grunt.

But this is a jukebox musical, and it's really all about celebrating the big hits of one of the greatest and most influential vocalists of all time. And when it really mattered, the production came up trumps with some incredible staging and precise choreography, particularly in songs such as Queen of the Night, How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance with Somebody.

The two leads were supported by some great performances too, with Emily-Mae playing Rachel's sister, Nicki, being the pick of the bunch. Her beautiful vocals really came to the fore in Saving All My Love and her gorgeous duet with her sister in Run to You.

Overall, it was a spectacular show, if a little cheesy, but a glance at the demographic of the audience reminded me that I probably wasn't its target market. Fans of Whitney and the Kevin Costner movie will surely love it, and I challenge anyone not to be lifted from their seat by the finale song. The Bodyguard continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until 2 September.


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