The Bodyguard **** : musical packed with Whitney Houston power ballads

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The Bodyguard starts with a bang and hits you with a host of powerhouse ballads from start to finish.

The stage musical sticks pretty close to the classic Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner film in which bodyguard meets pop stars, falls in love and then has all manner of doubts as he tries to protect her from a sinister stalker.

The songs define and dominate this show - we don’t learn anything of substance about any of the characters whose back story remains as sparse as the sets in Marron’s home. A settee and a bed and that was about it, which seemed less than bling-tastic for a true superstar, but all neatly done nonetheless with curtains sliding back and forth to make good use of the stage.

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As for the big numbers, they are delivered quite brilliantly by former Pussycat Doll, Melody Thornton who steps into Houston’s role as pop star Rachel Marron, and nails every single one of them … and there are plenty. This is a Houston-tastic soundtrack.

The Bodyguard is at the Playhouse until this weekendThe Bodyguard is at the Playhouse until this weekend
The Bodyguard is at the Playhouse until this weekend

Ayden Callaghan, formerly of Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, is special agent Frank Farmer whose love-hate relationship with Marron slowly – very slowly thaws, while Marios Nicolaides brings real menace to the role of the stalker, particularly in the second half when the narrative starts to have more impact.

But it’s the songs you come for - hence the pre-show warning not to sing-along, and leave it to the cast until the closing finale when everyone gets to join in.

It was good to see the audience heed the appeal even when this musical switched to near full concert mode for some numbers. There was absolute silence when Thornton delivered a standout rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You.’

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A tip of the hat also to Emily-Mae whose vocals were equally stunning in her role as Nicki Marron.

Fans of the film will love it, they’ll soak up every single soaring chorus, and will be on their feet for the finale where you can sing and let your inner Whitney loose.

The Bodyguard is at the Playhouse until Saturday.

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