For today’s Stage Left, I am taking you back in time to balmy August, when I met up with one of my closest friends, Anna, for one of our frequent trips to the theatre. Now she lives in Sussex and we don’t see each other every week like we did at uni, our schedules need careful planning, and our shared love of musicals means we often combine our London reunions with this. We intended to go and see The Bodyguard in December 2013 not long after it came out, but with one thing and another it got pushed back to the height of summer. My review may be coming in pretty late too, but there is a method to my madness. The show takes to the roads for a tour of the UK, starting next February, and hopefully by putting this up now I may be able to encourage you to grab a ticket.
Anna and I met up on a warm and sunny day, and spent our afternoon browsing Oxford St for a bit of last minute holiday shopping for Anna, before hitting our go-to cocktail bar, B@1. Anna and I visit here as a tradition too, making sure to time it right for Happy Hour. Their ice cream cocktails are unbelievable!
From there, we hit Chinatown for dinner. We went to Far East, which is situated in the premier spot of Wardour Street. I really need to do a proper review for them soon, because their food is incredible. They do very generous portions at very reasonable prices, and Anna and I rolled out of the restaurant and down through Covent Garden to the Adelphi Theatre.
I have been to the Adelphi several times previously, to see Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat and Sweeney Todd, but it’s been about two years since I last visited. We were in the stalls, but quite far back, so apologies for my poor quality stage picture!
As I’m sure most of you will know, the plot focuses on the slow-burn love story between Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard Frank Farmer and his strong-willed client, superstar singer Rachel Marron. The 1992 film features Whitney Houston at the height of her success in her cinematic debut, with its iconic soundtrack still known worldwide today. I am a little ashamed to say that I hadn’t seen the film until this year (although to anyone who knows me this won’t be much of a surprise – I actually have a list of films compiled by my work colleagues that I have been ordered to watch!). I enjoyed the film when I saw it, but I think I actually enjoyed the musical more.
Written in 2012, the version we went to see starred Alexandra Burke (X-Factor winner in 2008) and Tristan Gemmill (whom I think I knew of from my childhood Saturdays spent watching Casualty) as Rachel and Frank. For the theatrical trailer of the version Anna and I saw, watch this amazing Youtube assortment.
It was at Anna’s insistence that we saw the Alexandra Burke version, and I’ll be honest, it was a brilliant choice. Alexandra Burke was beautiful, pulled off a credible American accent, and really showcased her fabulous voice to its best. Tristan Gemmill was suitably dark and smouldering, and Carole Stennet as Rachel’s sister Nikki Marron had a wonderfully sweet and pure voice. I can’t remember for the life of me which actor played Rachel’s son, Fletcher (there is a rotation of four different actors), but he was just adorable.
I think that the plot of The Bodyguard actually lends itself to a musical better than it does to a film. The strength of these knockout songs and an unusually dark plot makes for a brilliant West End creation, and a fanatastic night. The entire audience ended the night dancing away in the stalls and singing to ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’. Anna and I then proceeded to serenade the unfortunate people of Central London on our trek back over Waterloo Bridge on our way home. It was an awesome girly night out, and unleashed our inner Whitneys with a vengeance!
The West End run has now finished, but if you didn’t catch it the UK tour starts in February 2015 in Southampton. Catch it and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! Click here for tickets.