This is the third time I have seen the stage musical of ‘The Bodyguard’ – first starring Alexandra Burke in the role that launched her stage career in 2014 and then with Melody Thornton in May this year.
Now here comes Aussie Emily Williams with a really awesome soul voice breathing new life into the proceedings with a truly gutsy performance.
The book is a very clever adaptation by Alexander Dinelaris of Lawrence Kasdan’s original screenplay for the 1992 movie – starring the late, great Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.
Kasdan also wrote screenplays for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ and is known for writing challenging special effects moments.
Dinelaris has carried this into the stage show with a multitude of effects from the first moment when a gunshot reverberates around the auditorium demanding attention.
The set moves in and out and up and down, with fire, smoke and lighting effects to grace the biggest rock concert arena. There are film effects on a giant gauze and settings that move from Beverly Hills mansions to the Oscars by way of recording studios, log cabins, karaoke bars and more – all effected smoothly and in the blink of an eye.
Williams is well supported by Ayden Callaghan reprising his role as the bodyguard himself, Frank Farmer.
Callaghan looks and moves like someone you would really want in your corner if the chips were down.
Graham Elwell makes a fine job of security man, Tony Scibelli, John Macaulay is impressive as Bill Devaney and James Groom is delightfully over the top as Melody’s manager Sy Spector.
Emily-Mae is simply outstanding as the Diva’s PA and sister Nicki Marron.
The production is directed faithfully by Mark Hedges and the superbly tight orchestra is under the baton of its keyboard playing MD, Sam Hall.
The score offers up some terrific numbers including such classics as ‘Greatest Love Of All’, ‘I’m Every Woman’, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and of course the legend that is ‘I Will Always Love You’. The audience thankfully did not join in until when invited to do so in the walkdown.
This is a big, bold, brash show that may seem a little formulated now but packed houses and standing ovations are testimony to its popularity.
If you’re looking for something different to Panto Dames then Emily Williams is a diva of a dame – Oh yes she is!
The Bodyguard is on at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre until December 30.
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