The Bodyguard

Written on February 23rd, 2017

Hearing the Late, Great Whitney Houston’s Hits   

If you’re a fan of the late Whitney Houston, then you will enjoy The Bodyguard, a musical version of the old movie, now on stage in Toronto at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

The movie was a hit back in 1992 – a romantic thriller showcasing Whitney Houston on the big screen.  The live stage musical replicates that movie, but if memory serves, there are a few minor plot changes.

Rachel Marron is a famous superstar, and her handlers are shielding her from strange threats she has received.  A bodyguard, Frank, is hired, but Rachel is opposed to the idea and dislikes him.  However, when her son, Fletcher, is put in danger from the unbalanced stalker, she falls in love with the bodyguard.  Frank, however, is more interested in Rachel’s sister, Nicki, who is Rachel’s assistant, but jealous of her success.  But Rachel is successful in attracting Frank, while the stalker closes in with many frightening opportunities to get at Rachel.

While the plot borders on cheesy from time to time, it is the music and dance that save this show.  Popular Whitney Houston hits are included throughout the show, written by a variety of creative artists.  Everyone’s favourite “I Will Always Love You” created by Dolly Parton and made famous by Houston is of course, the featured number.  A few of the many hits included are “All the Man That I Need”, “Greatest Love All”, “I’m Every Woman”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, and “Saving All My Love”. 

The show stars Beverley Knight, Britain’s Queen of Soul, a well-known recording artist in her own right playing a famous recording star.  However, the performance I attended starred Carole Stennett, the alternate.  Because the musical score is very demanding, Stennett performs twice a week, while Knight does six shows.  Stennett is excellent and I certainly don’t feel cheated by not seeing the big name.  Her vocal range matches that of Houston’s, and she brings all those big numbers to life.

Frank, the bodyguard is played by Stuart Reid who appears to be following Kevin Costner’s example in the movie.  He is wooden and some of his actions are robot-like.  Unfortunately, he seems to have no feeling towards either Nicki or Rachel and lacks chemistry with both.  In a heated argument with Rachel about her dangerous situation, Reid seems awkward and without passion.  If indeed that is how a machine-like bodyguard would be, then he shouldn’t have raised his voice.

Rachel John as Nicki not only belts her solo numbers perfectly, she harmonizes well with Stennett. She brings warmth to her character – spoiler alert – so that we genuinely feel terrible when she dies.

This production has been brought to Toronto from England and the entire cast is British, some with extensive West End experience.  But in contrast, there is something special about seeing familiar faces on stage.  We have many great musical theatre performers here in Canada and I really enjoy seeing them take on different roles.  While it’s exciting to see the best on tour from London’s West End or Broadway, let’s hope the Mirvish organization keeps giving us quality Canadian talent, along with the touring groups they brings in.

On the day I was in the audience, the matinee was delayed 50 minutes by what the manager called a “sticky stage”, making the audience very unhappy and restless.  Finally the show began, but during intermission, workers were scrubbing the stage.  Being held up was upsetting, especially for those catching tour buses or having dinner plans.

However, it created a little fun for us.  We had made plans to visit a restaurant, so I texted my son, saying the show had been held up.  He told the dining staff that we’d be late because The Bodyguard was delayed.  When we arrived they thought we were important and couldn’t go out without our bodyguard!

The Bodyguard continues with eight shows a week until May 14 at Ed Mirvish Theatre.  Call Ticket King 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333 or visit for tickets.

Photo: Cast of The Bodyguard.  Photo by Paul Coltas.

The Bodyguard
Book by Alexander Dinelaris, based on the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan
Choreography by Karen Bruce
Directed by Thea Sharrock
Musical Direction by Tom Gearing (Richard Evans)
Performed by Carole Stennett, (Beverley Knight), Stuart Reid, Rachel John, Neil Ditt, Mark Holden, Matthew Stathers, Glen Fox, Alex Andreas, Liam Wignall, et al
Produced by David Mirvish
The Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto
February 11 to April 9, 2017 *Extended to May 14
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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