It’s all about her. Listening to Beverley Knight was the greatest pleasure in this… show. It’s meant to be a musical drama, as the movie was, following the original script as much as possible, but those expecting their souls moved in the same way that Kevin and Whitney made it will feel really disappointed. However, if you approach the show without these expectations, the show can be enjoyed a lot, as a pseudo-cabaret show made up of single numbers feebly put together with a badly told story. Or even better, if you feel like I did that it is the best parody of a musical ever made, better than Spamalot or The Book of Mormon, then you can laugh loads throughout the whole show -and get some killing glances from neighbour attendants, should you mind at all.
It’s a pity, because the production is good. The modular stage design works perfectly and helps place us in as many different locations as a film would. There are plenty of props and dress changes (Beverley’s dresses are specially well chosen, and lift her to an even higher diva status), and the number of actors/dancers is enough for all the scenes to make sense… What was the problem then? Well, the performing level. I’ve seen high school plays with better actors than most in the Bodyguard. The director should think of a radical change of style (or job), the play is full of nonsense! What was that scene at the beginning with the “bad guy” showing his ripped body while singing a duet with her dreamed diva? How can you feel happy with a dramatic scene where more than half the theatre is trying to muffle their laughs? The poor guy got booed in the end, but the director should assume that those boos are his. I am sure also that there are also better kids to play the son’s role, kids who can naturally move, sing and talk. He got the second biggest applause, but just because the audience acknowledges the child’s effort. And if we are to speak about him, about the main role, the guy who fills London’s marquees with his picture… Well, I only need to say that they have decided to make him appear together with Beverley to save him from getting booed too. It’s not enough to have a likeness to Kevin Costner to fill a theatre.
The girls were better than them. That isn’t good yet but of course, at least they could sing, and when they did, you forgot. You never saw the dodgy dancing, you never felt the main actor couldn’t say his words, you just enjoyed the music, the great Whitney ballads, the dance songs, they were good in all the styles. And I must confess, it takes guts to impersonate and cover the songs by one of the greatest singing talents of the last decades. The musical director has done a good job here, choosing the songs, adapting the tracks, making them both shine. There are also two great realistic musical moments, the karaoke scene is just perfect, and Debbie Kurup does a great work feigning she sings nervously in the club. Too bad for her, she has moments where she sings right before or after Beverley, and it is only in the comparison where you feel that perfection is a step above.
The diva has a beautiful voice, rich in the low and powerful in the high notes. She rolls with great taste, her expression is amazing. She may not be a good dancer, but she has the presence. She got the whole audience standing to give her an ovation, and kept them standing and dancing (with somebody who loves them). She was the star last night, and she alone kept the show going. Nobody wanted to miss her next song, with the peak of the show being the last part of He fills me up.
So again: it is a pity that we didn’t get better actors for this show, because with only a decent acting level the musical would be really good. As it stands, more than a proper theatre play it is an excuse to listen to Beverley. But such a pleasure that is! She made it clear from the first song: she was the Queen of the night.