INTERVIEW: The Bodyguard, Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Stuart and Alexandra in The Bodyguard
Stuart and Alexandra in The Bodyguard
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HE’S the hero of the hour - the man who scoops up the leading lady and keeps her safe from harm.

Stepping into the shoes of original Bodyguard, Kevin Costner, is Stuart Reid.

The musical version of the classic 1992 romantic thriller, which also starred Whitney Houston, recreates the famous scenes from the film with added stage sparkle and extra Whitney hits thrown into the mix.

So as well as the film’s score – including I Will Always Love You, Queen of the Night and Run to You – you also get floorfillers such as I Wanna Dance with Somebody and How Will I Know and power ballad One Moment in Time.

“Before her passing, Whitney was very supportive of the music and was very open to them using her wide range of music, which really gave the producers licence to be creative. Those Whitney hits really weave and intersect with the play,” said Stuart.

The Oscar-nominated film has gone down in history as a classic and spawned the best-selling sound track of all time.

Alexandra Burke plays Rachel Marron

Alexandra Burke plays Rachel Marron

Stuart says he felt a great sense of responsibility playing the former Secret Service agent who is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker.

“There’s a massive responsibility with the whole Kevin Costner/Frank Farmer persona.

“But I didn’t go back to the film. The last time I watched it was when it first came out, when I was about 15.

“I really wanted to come to the role with a clean slate and to put my own stamp on it, to come at it with a fresh approach. That was my aim from the beginning, and hopefully that shows on stage.

It’s a ‘vocalthon’ and a major sing for anyone who plays it. But Alex and Zoe both bring energy and enthusiasm, and they bring it every night.

Stuart Reid, who plays Frank Farmer in The Bodyguard, on the role of Rachel Marron

“He’s a sturdy, stiff character to start with, which is due to his profession, but as the show evolves we see more of his human side, thanks to his relationship with Rachel.”

Speaking about why the characters clicked with cinema-goers so much, Stuart said: “I think for any female, it appeals because of the security side of things, plus he’s one of those men who makes you laugh, who you feel comfortable with.

“He’s a guy who’s good at what he does and protecting her, but he also has this back story to do with own parents and he wants to make sure that doesn’t happen to Rachel and her kid, 

“His bond with Fletcher is important because that’s when we start to see his human side.

A scene from The Bodyguard

A scene from The Bodyguard

“At first, he and Rachel lock horns, and Fletcher’s the reason he takes the job.”

The Bodyguard opened to rave reviews at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End in December 2012, where it continued to play to packed houses and standing ovations for two years.

It was nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and Best Set Design.

The touring version is giving regional audiences the chance to see what all the fuss is about.

“We’ve been getting a great response. The first few venues have been fantastic,” said Stuart. “Especially on a Friday and Saturday night when the crowds get raucous.”

Stuart, who played the role in the West End, added: “We put as much of the West End version as we can on tour. There are some things that are too big to lug around, but we do as much as possible.”

The original film poster

The original film poster

Starring alongside Stuart is three-time Brit nominee and X Factor winner, Alexandra Burke, as Rachel Marron.

Alexandra rose to fame after winning the fifth series of The X Factor. Her debut number one single Hallelujah sold over one million copies in the UK, a first for a British female soloist.

Alexandra performs the role in all the evening performances, while County Durham-born Zoe Birkett takes on the vocal Olympics of Whitney for the matinees.

Zoe is probably best known as the highest placing female contestant in ITV’s Pop Idol, 2002. Since then she has appeared in the West End productions of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and originated the female lead in Thriller Live.

Stuart says: “It’s a ‘vocalthon’ and a major sing for anyone who plays it. But Alex and Zoe both bring energy and enthusiasm and they bring it every night.”

•The Bodyguard appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from April 1 – 18. Tickets from £17.50 (subject to change. A booking fee of 95p - £1.95 will apply to most tickets) can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk.