REVIEW: The Bodyguard starring Alexandra Burke, Mayflower Theatre

Alexandra Burke as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard Picture by Paul Coltas
Alexandra Burke as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard Picture by Paul Coltas
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X FACTOR winners. Some have disappeared fast and without trace. Others haven’t fared so well.

But some - and one in particular - are doing rather well for themselves. And if you’re of the opinion no good ever came of anyone who won the TV talent show that you either love or hate, you ought to go and see Alexandra Burke in The Bodyguard.

Put simply, she is a shining star in an astounding show.

Cynics might think The Bodyguard on the stage is going to be no more than an excuse for a parade of Whitney Houston hits. Well the hits are all there - and beautifully, strongly delivered by Burke and Melissa James - but there is so much more to this sparkling production, which those with longer memories than me tell me is faithful in many ways to the film that was a huge box-office hit just over 20 years ago.

Burke plays the Oscar-seeking megastar Rachel Marron, while Stuart Reid is perfect as Frank Farmer, the bodyguard, who begins the evening as someone Rachel wants nothing to do with and ends as someone who has touched her life in more ways than she could have imagined.

From the very start, the spirit of Whitney lives on - and it’s amazing just how many familiar songs you’ll hear and think ‘of course, yes, that was by Whitney...’

But this is also a show with a gripping story, big characters, great humour (listen out for Frank’s karaoke-bar performance) - and, in particular, some superb use of scenery and special effects that keeps the plot moving along at a cracking pace.

At one stage on press night, the pace was a little too cracking - a power surge brought a 15-minute interruption that was unfortunate but was soon forgotten as the action resumed and the cast carried on as though nothing had happened.

Honourable mentions must go to the aforementioned James, who plays Nicki, (Rachel’s sister, manager and at one stage love rival); to ‘Fletch’ - Rachel’s adorable young son, played to a tee on this occasion by XhantiMbonzongwana, who I was amazed to read had no professional theatre experience before this; and to the un-named stalker, played by Mike Denman, who you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley or, for that matter, at the Oscars.

The two hours for which the show lasts flies by - and this audience won’t be the last to give that X Factor winner and all involved a standing ovation.

STEVE BONE

The Bodyguard, The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until February 28.