It’s always an interesting experience when you go to an opening night, having heard mixed reports about a show and wondering if it’s going to be a long night in the theatre.
So I turned up at the Regent Theatre for the opening night of The Bodyguard The Musical with some trepidation, but I’m delighted to say that my fears were totally unfounded. I was quickly won over by this production. The simple story is brought to life with excellent casting and impressive effects that will have you jumping in your seat.
Taking on the starring roles played in the film by Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, are actor/dancer Kip Gamblin and Australian Idol graduate Paulini Curuenavuli, as bodyguard Frank (Costner) and pop megastar Rachel Marron (Houston).
Rachel is being followed by a dangerous stalker, who infiltrates her life in scarily intimate ways, but is unable to be traced through normal security procedures. Rachel will go to any lengths to protect her 10-year-old son, Fletcher, but security in Rachel’s whole life has definite holes in it, so her advisers bring in top gun security man Frank Farmer to ramp up protection and keep mother and son safe.
Friction develops as Frank curtails Rachel’s social and professional life, much to the frustration of her publicity agent Sy Spector.
As in the best romances, initial mutual antipathy between Rachel and Frank changes to romantic interest, until Frank realises he can’t do his job of protecting Rachel and Fletcher if he is romantically involved with her.
What makes this predictable story interesting is the chilling sense of danger is introduced at key points in the story, and a tragedy the characters must deal with. It certainly makes the viewer ponder the very real danger that megastars are in when a crazed fan can decide to take over the star’s life. Brendan Irving’s Stalker is so effective that at the curtain call he received muted applause mixed with loud boos.
For lovers of Whitney Houston’s classic songs, this show is a treat, with 16 show-stopping songs. It’s a huge sing for Paulini, but she proves she has the voice to belt out the power ballads and draw us in with her amazing musicianship when she softly sings the emotional songs. A great singer always makes it sound so easy, and Paulini does just that.
As Frank, Kip Gamblin creates an assured character who knows his stuff, and the chemistry between him and Paulini is totally believable. It’s a fine performance to complement Paulini’s showier Rachel.
Rachel’s singer sister Nicki is beautifully played by The Voice alumnus Prinnie Stevens, who matches Paulini with fine vocals. When the two of them briefly sing together it’s a treat.
Andrew Hazzard’s Sy resembles Prince Harry in physical appearance, and provides a well-drawn character with the dry wit and angst of a dedicated publicist. Singer/actor Glaston Toft, whom audiences may remember from Jersey Boys and Georgy Girl makes the most of his acting role as security adviser Ray Court. And young Aston Droomer, one of four boys playing 10-year-old Fletcher, is a delight.
I would add the rider that if your musical tastes are strictly classical, this is not the show for you. But for me, The Bodyguard The Musical was an engaging night in the theatre with a story that draws you in and some of the best pop ballads of our time.