The show starts with a bang.
Literally. I say that to warn you so you won’t find yourself, as I did, jumping out of my seat. It took a few minutes to recover but you don’t have to wait long before you’re left with no doubt you are being treated to a show and a half. There’s smoke, there’s fire. And there’s the hit tunes of Whitney Houston delivered effortlessly by Paulini.
If you don’t know anything about The Bodyguard, simply put in the show’s own description, “Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge – what they don’t expect is to fall in love.”
If you’re going to compare this to the movie version, don’t.
While the central storyline is recognisable, the musical’s characters deviate from the movie version of their roles. So thankfully, we were kept guessing, taken on a journey with plenty of space for oohs and aahs and “didn’t see that one coming”. The production also uses music and effects to evoke a sense of danger (that was my heart pounding, right?) that The Phantom would’ve been proud of.
With all the ingredients in place, this was the last full dress rehearsal of The Bodyguard in Melbourne before the show opened to the public. We’d been warned that as it was technically still a rehearsal, anything could happen, including shouts from a director at the back of the theatre correcting the actors. “It’s only happened once,” our host promised. The opening scenes were slightly chaotic, and definitely dramatic. Perhaps something that will be fine-tuned for the opening. But as I’ve alluded, it didn’t take long before we’re immersed in the characters’ individual stories and their interplay, impacting on each other’s destinies. Sign of a job well done.
My conclusion? The Bodyguard is a MUST for Whitney Houston fans. You’ll enjoy it even if you’re not. Half the attraction is to see whether Paulini’s power cords can match Whitney’s and I think you’ll find you’ll be pleased. It’s worth going for that reason alone. But add the excellent performances of Kip Gamblin as Frank Farmer (aka the bodyguard), Prinnie Stevens as Nicki Marron, dance choreography smoother than butter and the very effective use of holographic effects…it becomes an irresistible proposition for a rewarding night out at the theatre.
If you’re still deciding, here’s Paulini’s rendition of Whitney Houston’s epic song, “I Will Always Love You”. Have a listen…(but yes, it’s a spoiler on how good she is!).
A standing ovation at the last dress rehearsal. The End.
The Bodyguard Melbourne is showing at The Regent Theatre until 29 October 2017.