Sorry for the delay in my next blog folks, this weekend I was busy entertaining 2 very discerning guests that love nothing more than to criticise my London life. Well, one does anyway – Dad is too laid back for all that. Long as he has a coffee in his hand he’s happy. Mum, on the other hand, loves to be critical. I often think she’d be a great reviewer, you know you’ve done well if she is pleased!
Anyway, our little tradition (as mentioned in a previous blog) is that we see a play/ musical whenever they’re down. Mum has final say (obviously) and Dad provides the ticket money, which often results in somepretty good seats. This time, Mum approved The Bodyguard and Dad picked some rather lovely dress circle seats, so off we went!
Now in the past I have seen a few movies that translated to the stage (to be blogged in future include Ghost, Wizard Of Oz, Billy Elliot and Sister Act; see Singin’ in The Rain, Legally Blonde reviews on my page) and I can give this film-to-stage category a 50% success rate so far. I think normally it’s because all of the above films were very successful in their own ways and were seen by SO many people, you have that expectation of what it should be like and if that doesn’t translate, then you feel it’s failed. So either the musical is better than the film, or it’s so different that you don’t compare the two. So, The Bodyguard, what can this deliver? Well by the time I got round to seeing it, the Whitney hand picked star Heather Headley had left back to the other side of the pond and in her place was UK soul diva herself, Beverley Knight. Interesting choice, I thought to myself – you know she can sing since she’s made a pretty damn amazing career as a soulstress, but can she play THE Rachel Marron?
But first, the other parts of the musical. Set was cool, love that they basically built a log cabin that opened like a doll house for one scene! Also the wall that they used with a movable window was very clever, basically allowing the actor’s thoughts downstage to be represented in the window as it followed them walking across stage, for example when the creepy stalker man was dreaming of Marron herself. The band was great and obviously the songs were fantastic – it really hammers home how many UNBELIEVABLE songs Whitney recorded and when they are fired at you one after the other, emotional onslaught much?!
So, to the main leads. First, a quick mention to Frank Farmer, played by Tristan Gemmill (of Casualty fame for all those soap watchers out there), who played a convincing, emotionally stunted man that opens up as the film goes on. Not good enough to knock Kevin Costner’s crown off, though – those shoes were too big to fill. Next, however, was an absolute triumph in the form of Debbie Kurup, who played the more introverted sister of Nikki Marron. In this character, Debbie tapped in to all those feelings of insecurity that so many of us have living in the shadow of a more successful parent, sibling or spouse and was able to emote all of those fears at being not good enough. Plus her voice was soulful, smooth and complemented Beverley’s beautifully in their duet ‘Run To You’.
Right, on to what everyone wants to know… First off, let me just say that I think it unfair to compare anyone to Whitney because who isn’t going to fall short of such an iconic woman? But of course we must. So let’s. Beverley was not as good as Whitney. Comparison over.
What I think is more fair is to judge Knight as Rachel Marron and here she did put her own stamp on The character. Brimming with fire and an initial stubbornness that belies a deeper need to defend her son from harm, Knight put some real heart into the character. Not the worlds greatest actress, she nevertheless got the salient emotion across well, I particularly liked the karaoke scene where she showed the human behind the diva (something i could never imagine Whitney having frankly). But what she can do (and did do) is sing. Again, not Whitney but she didn’t try and out belt the diva. instead, she sang it like Beverley Knight, soul queen. She was able to put so muchemotion and feeling into every single one of the songs she performed that at times it was easy to forget the obvious comparison and simply get entranced by her performance. If you’re going to get someone to do Whitney, make them a great singer. That she was.
All in all. I was incredibly impressed with this. I think happily surprised, as I have to admit I didn’t have this pegged to be a top West End musical. It didn’t make it into my top 5 (very high standards needed here!) but it was completely worth the money that Dad spent 😉 downside was that we were sat just behind a group of drunk mutton dressed as lamb women, who thought that they were the world’s best singers and insisted on joining in. More than happy to call the bouncer to kick those lot, thank you very much! Also, another thing I love about parents taking me to shows – posh chocolates.
Word of the day – humdinger. So British!