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Friday, July 19, 2024

The Bodyguard – The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent

Bringing to the stage the musical version of the film made famous in the early 90s featuring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, The Bodyguard has it all with a winning combination of an excellent storyline, a great cast and classic songs.

Filled with Whitney Houston hits, the music is a major draw and is a reminder of what a huge talent she was. But it was always Whitney’s voice that helped those songs stand apart, setting the bar high for the cast – yet this is a challenge that Samantha Mbolekwa and Emily-Mae rise to turning in excellent performances.

Telling the story of a star singer who becomes the target of a sinister stalker, The Bodyguard is a love story wrapped up in a crime thriller as bodyguard Frank Farmer is tasked with keeping the star safe after she is sent a series of suspicious letters.

Mbolekwa took on the role of Rachel Marron in Monday’s show, replacing Melody Thornton, portraying the journey the popstar takes throughout the show with conviction and delivering stunning vocal performances, particularly in the second part of the show.

And despite playing the sister that suffers in the shadows, there was no hiding in the shadows for Emily-Mae who played the role of Nicki Marron with confidence and verve, again backed by powerful vocal performances.

While the songs are central to the show, the evolving storyline is just as important and Ayden Callaghan as Frank Farmer plays an excellent part as the solid and serious security guard, with hidden depths. Callaghan brings depth and likeability to the character, even throwing in a bit of humour.

The entire cast is excellent with James Groom as comical, demanding manager Sy Spector, John Macaulay as Bill Devaney, Graham Elwell as security guard Tony Scibelli, and an exceptional performance from young Kaylenn Aires Fonseca as Rachel’s son Fletcher. The portrayal of the stalker by Marios Nicolades is sinister and convincing, done with striking simplicity.

Part of the success of the show is in its clever use of the stage to tell the unfolding story with effects that draw the audience in and give the glamour the story demands. There is flames; rapid outfit changes; convincing scenery changes from log cabins, to the singer’s mansion, karaoke bars and live stage shows; and the sound of gunfire.

Packed full of hits including Greatest Love of All, I’m Every Woman, Queen of the Night, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, One Moment in Time and, of course, I Will Always Love You – and with a plot that really draws you in, The Bodyguard never ceases to entertain.

This is simply a great show with a great soundtrack and storyline. Catch The Bodyguard at The Regent theatre in Hanley until Saturday, March 4. Tickets are available online or via the box office on 0844 871 7615.


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