Everyone has heard of “The Bodyguard”, that 1992 movie featuring the late Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner as music superstar and secret service agent, falling in love against their better judgement as he strives to protect her from a dangerous stalker. If you haven’t watched it, you’ve certainly listened to the soundtrack – the best-selling of all time. And since the end of 2012, you most definitely should have heard word of the musical version that opened on 5th December last year, the Adelphi Theatre production that went on to win the 2013 WhatsOnStage.com Award for Best New Musical.
Well, now acclaimed recording artist Beverley Knight is taking on Houston’s role of Rachel Marron, replacing predecessors Gloria Onitiri and Heather Headley on stage. Joining her will be Tristan Gemmill as Frank Farmer, himself following in the footsteps of Lloyd Owen in Costner’s role. The turnover of stars within the musical almost mirrors those of the film. Originally, Lawrence Kasdan wrote the “The Bodyguard” for Diana Ross and Steve McQueen to take the lead roles in 1976. When that fell through, over the years stars such as Ryan O’Neal, Madonna, and Janet Jackson were contemplated (most were unsuccessful due to poor relations between the potential two leads), until the pairing of Houston and Costner in 1992.
Nevertheless, Knight and Gemmill will be bringing their considerable talents and charisma to the stage from 9th September until March 2014 in order to delight audiences with this romantic thriller and please their ears with musical classics including ‘Run To You’, ‘Queen of the Night’ and – of course – ‘I Will Always Love You’. Gemmill will be most familiar to viewers of the TV series “Casualty”, “The Bill” and “London’s Burning”, while Knight, ‘one of Britain’s greatest soul singers’, was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her contribution to British music and considerable charitable work. Her last album, released in 2011, was a cover of Soul greats.
Written by Alexander Dinelaris and directed by Thea Sharrock, the musical maintains the integrity of Alan Silvestri’s original score, but improves on the quality and poor critical reception of the movie. As The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer commented, Sharrock’s stage version “is far more enjoyable than the movie” and The Times’ Libby Purves considered that it gave “throbbing new life to that thin story”. The Grade-II listed Adelphi Theatre is a suitable venue for the endeavour, as it’s known for hosting musicals, including “Chicago” and a long successive run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s works, including “Evita”, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Sweeney Todd”.
Sharrock’s “The Bodyguard” has serious footsteps to follow in and, for each actress that takes on Houston’s eponymous role, the question will always be whether she can compare with ‘that’ performance of ‘I Will Always Love You’. The show’s teaser runs, “Each expects to be in charge – what they don’t expect is to fall in love”. Audiences of the musical should expect to be auditorily thrilled by Beverley Knight – and fall in love with her rendition.