REVIEW: Bradford Alhambra Theatre’s production of ‘The Bodyguard’

On a student budget, I booked tickets for my beloved mum and I for Mothers Day to see The Bodyguard, and planned to be seated in the upper circle. Despite being high up, we’ve tried and tested the area and found the seats are considerably cheaper and still get a good view. However, because we opted for a midweek showing the theatre was quieter than it would be on a weekend or evening, and therefore the kind staff at the Alhambra upgraded all those in the upper circle to the dress circle. As you can imagine, none of the lesser priced ticket holders complained and were in fact keen to move to the empty row J before others took the aisle seats.

Being one of the few who had never seen the film, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the vast amount of positive reviews ensured we were greatly anticipating our day out at the theatre.

“THE BODYGUARD is β€˜THE RUNAWAY GOLD-PLATED MUSICAL HIT” (Daily Mail)

The dimly lit theatre was late to start, and the audience therefore took the opportunity to talk about the upcoming show and catch up with their peers, little to their knowledge that something would soon disturb their chatter. The lights went dark as the performance started suddenly, and literally with a bang, in the form of a gunshot, making I, along with a number of others in nearby seats gasp and become jittery. After the dramatic opening, the tension kept on rising, never stopping until the shows climax, hence keeping the audience on their toes and wanting to postpone the half way mark interval – albeit not for the sake of an ice cream and toilet break.

11313134_895403900531531_1210126406364342820_oAlthough I expected Alexandra Burke to be strutting her stuff as Rachel Merron, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed with the leading actress filling in for her during the midweek shows. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. Zoe Birkett comfortably played the role and came across well as a feisty yet bubbly character with an angelic voice that did justice to a number of Whitney Huston’s greatest hits. The protagonists son, Fletcher, played by a young Jhayheim Davis, was also cast brilliantly. He acted as a complete natural and won over the hearts of the audience with his adorable charm, earning himself coos and “bless him[s]” after he sung a line from another well known number.

The fiery romance filled thriller even incorporated cheesy humour to get the audience involved such as a scene where a tone death Stuart Reid as Frank the bodyguard attempted karaoke. However, my personal highlight of the performance was the leading actresses rendition of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” that got most viewers up on their feet, clapping and singing along. It took great restraint for me to keep my dignity and do so in my head from my seated position- not that anyone would have judged. Although that was an easy favourite, the rest of the singles were sung with the same amount of passion and zest, blowing up the stage with talent and well choreographed dancers.

Regarding the aesthetics of the performance, the costumes were on point. Every show gown defined elegance all the while incorporating the diva-ish sparkle of Whitney Houston. Each scene also had smooth transitions as the clever set was depicted with few partitions and lighting to give the illusion of different rooms, give or take the odd home touch. Not forgetting the fantastic band. All factors worked together to give the impression that the performance was more than just live action, and instead a cinematic adaption.

It’s no lie when I say it’s a must see!

The Bodyguard runs until June 13.

Rae Coppola