REVIEW: Bodyguard has some flaws
Beverley Knight in the Toronto production of The Bodyguard. MIRVISH
WE SAY: 2 1/2 out of 5
On the surface, The Bodyguard, the London West End musical which has arrived in Toronto for its Canadian premiere at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, sounds like it has a lot going for it.
Not the least of which is a dozen Whitney Houston hits that helped propel music from the 1992 film. It starred the late singer as music superstar Rachel Marron who was being stalked by a mad fan. Kevin Costner co-starred as Frank Farmer, the new bodyguard Rachel falls for. The accompanying soundtrack became the best selling of all time.
So if you are a hardcore Houston fan, you will want to check out the stage version now that the musical stars Beverley Knight, also known as the Queen of British soul. Her powerful pipes fuel such songs as How Will I Know, I Have Nothing, I'm Every Woman, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Queen of the Night, Run To You, Saving All My Love, So Emotional, and the granddaddy of them all: I Will Always Love You.
You won't be able to help but sing along to every song.
Sadly, if you're not a Houston fan, the singing probably won't be enough to keep you engaged throughout the two acts.
Most notably, because Knight speaks with an awkward American accent - which comes across broad and grating. Her acting also feels unnecessarily melodramatic.
Then there's the matter of her chemistry with Stuart Reid, who is an intense, sexy, strong and sturdy presence as Farmer.
Their romance isn't believable as Knight's Rachel goes from bitchy to besotted after one mere date with Frank to a karaoke bar.
The problematic script and clumsy directing are more to blame for that than anything else.
However, that karaoke scene does provide one of the best gags in the musical.
But I won't spoil it and ruin the moment for you.
Though, when Rachel and Frank's journey together are captured in a filmed montage at the end of the show, I could hear people laughing around me, which I don't think was the desired effect.
On the plus side, there are a couple of genuinely big moments that give the talented chorus a chance to show off their moves.
For example, Knight is given the opportunity to get all glammed up in the first act's opening number, Queen of the Night; and in the second act, I'm Every Woman; and the showstopper at the end, I Will Always Love You.
(Warning for the fainthearted: the show has a startling beginning.)
Also good is Rachel John as Nicki, Marron's sister, and Jaden Osheneye as Marron's son, Fletcher (played by three actors).
John, in particular, impressed as she joined Knight in a couple of remarkable duets, excelling on her own solos too.
The Bodyguard Ed Mirvish Theatre Runs until April 9