Some musicals could conceivably be classed as 'demanding' - there's no doubt that many productions take it out of the actors on stage. However, The Bodyguard, is the perfect storm of an emotional plot and an outstanding soundtrack.
The international award-winning musical is based on the film of the same name, released in 1992. It tells the story of former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, who is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. With big personalities, each of them expects to be in charge, but what they don’t expect is to fall in love.
The story is beautifully interwoven with a soundtrack that comes with a pedigree that so many other jukebox musicals don't. When you start with a catalogue of Whitney Houston classics, including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and one of the greatest hit songs of all time – I Will Always Love You, you're almost guaranteed a hit show - but the cast on stage tonight took that to another level.
It doesn't seem like five minutes since I last saw this show on stage at The Grand, but looking back it's been nearly four years since Alexandra Burke left the theatre with their jaws on the floor. Burke takes the lead role in this tour, alternating with Jenlee Shallow who plays Rachel Marron on most dates in Wolverhampton.
Whilst Shallow has a CV of critically acclaimed performances, this is her first UK role and it's a behemoth of a part to take on. With a grace, confidence and composure that sets her apart from so many of her contemporaries, Shallow was outstanding on stage this evening. To take on a Whitney back-catalogue is, by her own admission, daunting. However there was no hint of nerves this evening with Jenlee delivering a world class performance with vocals that were on another level.
Benoît Maréchal join the show after playing Frank Turner in the French production and his experience is clear to see. Frank is the archetypal 'gentleman' and Maréchal fits that persona perfectly. Special mention should go to Micha Richardson as Rachel's sister, Nicki. A part which often gets overlooked when you've got a 'Whitney-esque' character on stage, Richardson excelled this evening and gave a beautiful vocal performance.
Another element The Bodyguard is well known for is it's staging, lighting and effects. From the subtleties of the productions mood lighting to the out and out stadium level extravaganza that plays through the first number, this show is visually perfect and pushes the boundaries of most peoples understanding of musical theatre.
One area the cast should be commended on is stamina. This show never stops and there's no lull's in the score to allow you to catch your breath. This really is hit after hit and, even for the non-Whitney fans in the audience, you can't deny that this is hit after hit from an artist who sold almost 200 million records in her time.
For me, this show is nothing short of a masterclass in musical theatre, expertly pulled off by a talented cast and crew - I implore you to get tickets.
The Bodyguard plays at Wolverhampton Grand until Saturday 6th July 2019. For more information, or to get your tickets, head online to grandtheatre.co.uk.