Presented by Gordon Frost Organisation
55 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
Season: 27 April – 25 June
The Bodyguard is currently playing as the Australian Premier season at the Lyric Theatre, adapted from the 1992 film for the stage. Its narrative is packed full of clichés and the acting in general isn't crash-hot, but Whitney Houston's music makes you want to boogy and the dancers in the show are excellent. The show gives you a really good time, and a few of the musical performances ooze 'wow'. Perhaps just ignore that pesky storyline.
I haven't seen the original film with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, but Wikipedia seems to tell me that while the plot remains largely the same, there have been some adjustments made to better suit the stage. I can understand that the film grossed highly and Whitney's music is so iconic, however I always have to question why producers believed this story needed to be made into a musical. To me, it feels dated. We see repeated 'damsel in distress' iconography as Frank saves Rachel, scooping her up into her arms and she's repeatedly chastised for not understanding her own circumstances and trying to make her own decisions about her life. Seriously? We see two highly accomplished women, Rachel and her sister Nicki, fall head over heels in love for a random bodyguard with little personality or substance and then proceed to sing about how they don't have anything except him and his love. Are you kidding me? Why are these supposedly intelligent and successful women reduced to pining objects over a dude? I thought it was a bit of a joke. We can do so much better than this.
I'm not really sure what Paulini has been up to since her Australian Idol days, but she's making a strong appearance in this musical. Her voice really is wonderful and she steps up to the plate this seriously intimidating role - you've got to respect anyone who takes on these Whitney classics. It is apparent that she's not an actor or a dancer, but that's not really unusual when productions bring in a familiar singing face into a musical theatre role. Kip Gamblin plays famous singer Rachel’s bodyguard. They don’t seem to have a lot of chemistry and dialogue between them doesn’t flow naturally – it’s as if neither are properly listening to each other, or actually developing the thoughts behind their lines, rather they run their lines off at each other when it’s their cue. On the night that I saw the show, Rome Champion played Rachel’s son, Fletcher. He captures hearts singing, dancing and acting with charisma and warmth. It blew me away how much talent he possesses at such a young age. The ensemble as a whole is really fantastic, full of energy and supported by excellent choreography and costuming. It is in the ensemble scenes that the show reaches a wow-factor that it otherwise fails to embody.
At the end of the show, after the bows, the cast erupts back into song in glittering costumes and bright lights shining. They manage to get people up and dancing and I had a beaming grin across my face. If they had achieved this Whitney Houston style magic throughout the whole show, and upturned the storyline, this production could have been incredible. It doesn’t achieve that standard on the whole. Maybe if you’re a big Bodyguard fan or a Whitney die-hard, it may be redeemable.