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Reviewed: The Bodyguard at Curve

Feel the heat! See The Bodyguard at Curve til April 22.

Samantha Mbolekwa as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard
Samantha Mbolekwa as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard

What an opening! This big-budget production sets off with chair-juddering gunshots, an impressive film-reel cinema screen countdown projection, artistic silhouettes, and a live concert!

The Bodyguard is an iconic film. The story is deeply romantic and shows the darker side of celebrity. Its reimagining as a musical is now on stage at Leicester’s Curve until Saturday, April 22. This The Bodyguard review took place on opening night and the fandom around the movie resulted in a full house. I’d be surprised if you can still get a ticket for the rest of the run.

No expense is spared in the opening number with repeated pyrotechnics blasting the audiences with heat from the flames that roar throughout the star of the story, Rachel Marron, and her dance troupe’s performance of ‘Queen of the Night’. The scene does exceptionally well to imitate a stadium-capacity concert. LEDs border the stage pre-programmed with funky, multi-coloured rhythms, and freestanding stage lights levitate about giving depth to the stage. And the music is heart-poundingly loud.

Samantha Mbolekwa as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard

Dancers were perfectly in sync and the energy they emitted was exhilarating. The electricity on stage wows so much so that you barely notice the dance troupe moving set pieces to display Rachel, demonstrating the glamour and celebrity about her. The outcome: epic. This is without a doubt the greatest opener to a show I’ve seen yet. Goosebumps already.

The production quality of this show is wildly fantastic. Sound is crisp and clear allowing Samantha’s smooth vocals to pour out into the auditorium, chilling the spines of everyone it touches. It must be a daunting task to take on Whitney Houston songs and difficult for audiences not to make comparisons but Samantha Mbolekwa’s gifts are pure and completely her own. The soul in her voice is remarkable.

The bodyguard review at Curve Leicester

Silence is deafening in Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ right before the iconic (practically sonic) boom brings the lyrics back in and thunders through seats and chests. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this performance. The role of Rachel, usually played by Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton, requires a versatile actress. Samantha takes the rollercoaster role in her stride, which encompasses mother, sister, star, lover, and protector all in one. She takes on all the elements of drama, comedy, and tragedy and pulls them off with huge success.

The bodyguard review at Curve Leicester
Frank Farmer and Nicki Marron

Emily-Mae plays Nicki Marron, a singer who has been overshadowed all her life by her sister Rachel. Despite her envy, Nicki is a true sweetheart who this audience fell in love with. Her heartache was well displayed and her voice was astoundingly angelic. She received a unanimous, loving cheer at the bows.

The frightening stalker played by Marios Nicolaides gave us our fair share of jump scares. His sinister silence and careful movements are unsettling. He received a well-deserved boo at the bows – the sign of a job well done.

Lights dazzle and dramatise to an artistic degree with storytelling at the forefront. This jam-packed show doesn’t leave much time spare for its audience to get to know the characters and their relationships. They make up for this with clever stage management. For instance, Nicki literally lives in the shadows of her celebrity sister. Even under the spotlight, Nicky’s face is never fully lit, always shadowed. These powerful details creatively reveal the relationships on stage.

The bodyguard review at Curve Leicester - a man holds a woman in his arms

The romance between Rachel and Frank Farmer (Ayden Callaghan) sizzles and develops at an unforced pace. The chemistry is definitely there, making their love story all the more heartbreaking.

The space was made great use of, showcasing the wealth and extravagance of Rachel’s lifestyle. This is achieved with heavy, full-length, cream curtains that open to reveal half of the stage at a time, giving the feel of different rooms and vast spaces.

The final scenes revert back to the film-reel cinema projection, this time with an astonishing hologram portraying the memories between Rachel and Frank.

Not shy to express our appreciation for this truly epic spectacle, an immediate standing ovation was had. Our good behaviour and restraint from singing along were then rewarded with an all-out, glitzy, heart-warming stand-up-and-clap-and-sing-along at the end.

See The Bodyguard at Curve until April 22.


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