The Bodyguard will head to the North East on its first tour. Katy Wheeler went along to the show’s West End home to find out what audiences can expect from the musical.
Tinker with some films at your peril, such is the zealous reverence they induce in their fans. Most recent stage adaptations of silver screen classics have stuck rigidly to the winning formula.
Take Dirty Dancing for example. No one dared mess with Baby and Johnny and the resulting musical is an almost word-for-word, albeit enjoyable, ode to the original.
As I took my seat at The Adelphi in London’s West End, I expected The Bodyguard to follow suit.
Can you possibly improve on Whitney and Kevin in the 1992 blockbuster film? Turns out, yes you can.
Although the film is admittedly one of my favourites, it’s a flawed favourite. The glossy schmaltz often blinds you to a lack of chemistry between the star-crossed lovers, while Whitney, although undeniably one of the greatest singing talents of her generation, is often unlikeable as the petulant diva Rachel Marron.
For the stage, characters are fleshed out, the romance is given more sizzle and it’s all topped off with a sprinkling of classic Whitney toe-tappers which didn’t feature in the film.
Joelle Moses (understudy to current leading lady Alexandra Burke) channelled her inner diva to step into the spray-on jeans of Rachel Marron, the superstar singer being stalked by a psychotic fan.
Although she has the feistiness needed for the role, she also offers glimmers of a softer side, particularly with her relationship with son Fletcher.
Their duet is a lively scene, one that, although not featured in the film, blends into the story seamlessly.
Like Fletcher, Rachel’s sister Nicki (Carole Stennett) is given more air time in the musical, which is all the better for it.
Though Moses’ voice soared on big numbers I Have Nothing and I Will Always Love You, Stennett hits more of a raw note, particularly in Saving All My Love, which really tugs on the heartstrings.
So beautiful is her voice that you can’t help rooting for the sibling who spends her life in her sister’s shadow, despite her simmering jealousy.
So much so, I almost wanted Frank Farmer – played with brooding intensity by Tristan Gemmill – to run off with her.
She, of course, isn’t the only person hungry to take the shine off her sister’s star.
Michael Rouse is captivating as the crazed stalker. He’s a deranged fan of few words, but the intensity he emits on stage unnervingly grips your attention.
His tortured mental state is emphasised by clever use of scenery that closes in on him as he spirals deeper and deeper into the recesses of his warped mind.
Lighter moments are provided by the music. There’s no original tracks written for the piece so, unless you’ve been living in cave for the past twenty years, you’ll know all of them.
Less jazz-handy and more pop anthems, numbers such as One Moment in Time and Run to You sometimes make you feel like you’re at a concert rather than a musical. But that’s no bad thing.
Like all good gigs, everyone was on their feet by the end of the show as Moses belted out I Wanna Dance With Somebody with impressive gusto.
•West End musical The Bodyguard will visit Newcastle Theatre Royal next year from April 1-18. Tickets are available now, priced from £17.50. They can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 112121 or select your own seat and book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk.