Zoe Birkett – Rachel Marron
Stuart Reid – Frank Farmer
Rachel John – Nicki Marron
Dominic Taylor – Sy Spector
Mark Holden – Bill Devaney
Matthew Stathers – The Stalker
Alex Andreas – Tony Scibelli
Glen Fox – Ray Court
Show Date: Wednesday 2nd March 2016
Venue: Sunderland Empire
The show opens with a bang, seriously a loud gunshot that made many members of the audience jump to then be followed by Rachel performing, no messing about at all as the fire is blasted in front of the stage, I was in the third row and you could certainly feel the heat from it! Probably the perfect way to open the show, it is going to be hot, action packed and a great tribute to the great Whitney Houston.
I really loved the use of the songs of Houston’s that were not in the film version of The Bodyguard, which I love in all honesty! To have so many more of her fantastic songs in the show really is such a bonus as they are placed perfectly to help aid the story from start to finish. Some of which bring a tear to my eye on a good day, come on “Saving All My Love”, “I Have Nothing” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” are all just difficult and that is without mentioning “I will always love you” – often mistaken for a love song . . . Break up song!
Anyway I cannot help but gush about Whitney Houston’s music as I have been through a couple of phases of listening to it all. The thing with Houston is that her voice is incredible and it is truly difficult to do a lot of her music. The great news is Zoe Birkett absolutely nails all different types of the songs throughout the show in the leading role of Rachel. This is not the first time I have seen Birkett perform, many life times ago I went to the Pop Idol tour which I do believe was Will, Gareth and Zoe! She really puts in an amazing performance not just with the songs but acting to go along with it really owning the stage.
Stuart Reid takes on the role of Frank Farmer the new Bodyguard brought in to protect Rachel and her son Fletcher after serious death threats have been made against her by a crazy stalker. This is a job he takes very seriously, well he takes everything very seriously and this was something Reid got spot on. But as they spend more time together and he embarrasses himself on karaoke singing “I Will Always Love You” which was pretty hilarious in all honesty wasn’t expecting that at all. The chemistry between the pair is good and believable as they struggle to come to terms with the relationship they now have.
Rachel John was a standout performer for me her vocals were truly amazing and a joy to listen to and watch as she eased through them. Her rendition of “Saving All My Love” made it even more heartbreaking as she struggles living in the shadow of her very famous sister. John and Birkett share a fantastic duet and really do compliment each other very well singing together. Fletcher was very impressive (unfortunately didn’t catch the name of the young actor playing the part for this performance).
The show also boosts some very good dance routines and impressive staging of this with the powerful songs. It really is a fitting tribute to Houston and showcasing what a talent she was with these songs. Especially with the story to go along with The Bodyguard as well, it actually felt quite strange watching it at times considering I knew exactly what the ending was going to be. That did not stop me from having tears in my eyes struggling not to properly cry in the theatre as Zoe Birkett belted out “I Will Always Love You” in a truly show stopping end.