Former Secret Service agent, Frank Farmer is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge – what they don’t expect is to fall in love…
THE BODYGUARD, based on the smash-hit film which starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, is now playing in London’s West End. Making her West End debut, Tony and Grammy award-winning Heather Headley (The Lion King on Broadway, Aida on Broadway) stars as Rachel Marron, with Lloyd Owen (BBC’s Monarch of the Glen) as Frank Farmer.
This breathtaking romantic thriller features a whole host of irresistible classics, including One Moment in Time, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and, of course, the legendary I Will Always Love You.
Based on the Warner Bros. film written by the acclaimed, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Big Chill, The Empire Strikes Back), with a book by Drama Desk Award-nominated Alexander Dinelaris, this extraordinary new production of THE BODYGUARD is directed by the award-winning Thea Sharrock (Sunshine Boys, Equus, The Misanthrope).
Listen to screenwriter Lawrence Kadan and Alexander Dinelaris speak on the musical below:
Opening Night, December 6, 2012
Heather Headley aka Rachel and her bodyguard Lloyd Owen aka Frank FarmerGolden voice: Heather Headley is already impressing critics with her angelic vocalsInterracial Love: Lloyd Owen and Heather Headley exchange a smile on stageLet’s dance: Heather Headley and her co-stars enjoy their stage timeCelebrating: The castb of ‘The Bodyguard’ celebrateThe Lead: Lloyd Owen and Heather Headley are the main attraction of the musicalTeary: Lloyd Owen and Heather Headley are teary-eyed as they thank their audienceDon’t cry: Lloyd Owen comforts an emotional Heather HeadleyThankful: Heather Headley is unable to hold back tearsThank you bow: The cast bow to thank the audienceHeather smiles with her bouquet of flowers. A job well done
The Bodyguard – After Party
Party-time: The cast including Thea Sharrock party after a successful openingAll smiles: The lady of the night looks gorgeous in her black/white dressThe cast pose with screenwriter Lawrence KasdanInterracial love: On-stage lovers Lloyd Owen and Heather Headley (who is married to a Caucasian man in real life)Love: Director Thea Sharrock and Heather HeadleyHappy on-stage family: Malaki Paul looking dapperFan: Elaine Page with Heather HeadleyDebbie Kurup plays Heather Headley‘s sister in the musicalSisterly love: Debbie Kurup and Heather Headley make a great teamHappy fan: Allen Rich and Heather Headley
First Night Review: The Bodyguard
Reviewers raved last week Thursday about Heather Headley’s performance as Rachel Marron, a superstar singer who falls for the former secret service agent (Lloyd Owen) assigned to protect her from a stalker.
Critic Mark Shenton in The Stage newspaper found:
Headley — an American actor and singer who has won both a Tony and a Grammy Award — “an utterly compelling star” who combines “an authentic glamour and blazingly soulful vocals.”
Evening Standard critic Henry Hitchings called:
her “mesmerizing,” while the Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer praised Headley’s “sassy stage presence” and declared her renditions of songs such as “I Will Always Love You” even better than those by Houston, who died in February aged 48.
As for the rest of the show, some critics found campy fun where others saw just another uninspired jukebox musical.
The Guardian’s Michael Billington damned
“The Bodyguard” as “one more example of the necrophiliac musical morbidly attracted to a cinematic corpse.”
He said that although staged with “enormous technical efficiency” it was “a sterile attempt to recapture the feel of a not very good romantic thriller and turn the West End into a distant suburb of Hollywood.”
In contrast, Times of London reviewer Libby Purves found it
“absurd and hugely enjoyable,” with terrible dialogue but “brilliantly clever” design and powerful performances.
She added that “the heart swells with British pride that this terrific all-American schlock is not a Broadway import,” but the work of a London team including director Thea Sharrock and designer Tim Hatley.
The Telegraph’s Spencer predicted it would be a hit.
“‘The Bodyguard’ is dross with a gloss, and proof that if you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, you can sometimes come surprisingly close,” he wrote.
The memory of Whitney Houston hangs over London’s Strand, where a stage version of her film The Bodyguard has opened. It’s loud, it’s soupy, it is as predictable as the tides – yet it makes for a pumpy, undemanding evening.
The Bodyguard is the one in which Whitney played pop star Rachel Marron who falls in love with her bodyguard (played in the Warner Bros film by Kevin Costner).
Those two parts are here done by heavenly Heather Headley and Lloyd Owen, who bears an uncanny resemblance to ITN foreign correspondent Bill Neely.
They are both good, as is Debbie Kurup as Rachel’s sister.
The sisters’ duet Run to You is the highlight of a first half which starts with a bang (literally) and has some clever staging. At one point we seem to look down from the sky. Silhouettes appear in smoke. Curtains and partitions whizz from side to side.
Director Thea Sharrock gives us so many scene changes, it’s like being on a train. That incessant movement may take the audience’s mind off some clunky story-telling. One belting ballad quickly yields to another, all sung at top whack. There is just about enough plot to provide the bones for the drama.
If my remarks sound grudging for a four-star show, that is perhaps because the thing is so shamelessly a Hollywood rip-off. It even uses film clips projected on enormous screens. This is ‘accessible’, I guess, but there is a risk of tainting the integrity of the stage action. Rachel is pursued by a stalker.
Frank protects her. She falls in love with Frank. He realizes that he has crossed the client-bodyguard relationship. But can he save her from frightening danger when she appears at the Oscars? Ooh-er! There are some jumpy moments.
We also hear Whitney’s (or rather Dolly Parton’s) celebrated song, I Will Always Love You. First time round it is in a karaoke bar when bodyguard Frank sings it in a gruff voice. Second time is at the surging end. Miss Headley shoots her cuffs, Tommy Cooper-style.
This brings an instant burst of star-shaped light and tragic Rachel gets the full swell from the (slightly muddy) band.
The finale is top-turbo schmaltz, followed by a disco party. This emotive show may not be subtle or cerebral but it is a modern romantic classic and may put you in the mood for some Yuletide lovin’.
- ‘The Bodyguard’ stage musical opens in London (seattletimes.com)
- Can Heather Headley Save The Bodyguard Musical Or Will It Trash Whitney Houston’s Memory? (contactmusic.com)
- The Bodyguard musical panned as ‘dross’ but praised for star (cbc.ca)
- ‘Bodyguard’ musical opens in London (sfgate.com)