Monday, 18 April 2016

Review: The Bodyguard (UK Tour) at the Milton Keynes Theatre

The Bodyguard (UK Tour) 
Milton Keynes Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 13th April 2016

Over the past year The Bodyguard has been touring the UK to sold out audiences. Alexandra Burke, who made her West End debut in the musical, reprises her performance as U.S. superstar Rachel Marron for this new touring production.

Some may moan about film to stage adaptations and jukebox musicals, but The Bodyguard has been adapted superbly for the stage. As well as capturing the magic of the 1992 Oscar nominated film, Thea Sharrock's production features additional Whitney Houston hits.

The show sees Rachel's team hire bodyguard Frank Farmer to protect her against an obsessive stalker. At first Rachel doesn't approve of Frank, but the pair eventually find a way of working together. Houston's music is naturally theatrical and fits into the story perfectly, with many songs being staged in performance context.

The Bodyguard isn't a stereotypical, cheesy jukebox musical; at times it's dark, although you can't help but leave the theatre feeling pumped following the energetic finale of 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' which continues to bring audiences to their feet night after night. The talented ensemble work their socks off during all the big musical numbers.

Rather than simply being scaled down, Tim Hatley's set has been redesigned for the tour. Whilst Rachel's entrance is nowhere near as striking as in the West End, overall the design is impressive for a tour. I overheard lots of "isn't the set incredible - it's like a West End show" comments during the interval. Parts of the show have also been switched up, with Houston's final single 'Million Dollar Bill' rightfully being slotted in.

Rachel Marron is an unthinkably demanding role, yet Alexandra Burke gives her all throughout. Starring opposite Stuart Reid who makes the perfect Frank Farmer, Burke's performance has grown drastically since I attended her press night in London. She's sassy and has developed good comic timing.

Burke's vocals sounded tired once or twice, but overall she aced song after song and brought people to their feet during 'I Will Always Love You'. I believed I was watching a superstar. I love that additional choreography has been added to show off the true extend of Burke's talents, she shines during the up-tempo performance numbers with her strongest moment being 'I'm Every Woman'.

Rachel John, who recently joined the cast as Rachel's sister Nikki, is an absolute star. John stood out throughout; she is a vocal goddess and performs with charm. She makes the role likable, with her rendition of 'Saving All My Love For You' marking my highlight of the night. I would love to see her take on Rachel.

I had forgotten just how much I love The Bodyguard; the show has gone down a storm around the UK - bring on its West End return with Beverley Knight in July.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Bodyguard runs at the Milton Keynes Theatre until 23rd April and tours the UK until 28th June 2016. The show returns to the West End on 15th July 2016. Please visit for further information, tour dates and tickets.

Photo Credit: Paul Coltas 

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