The Bodyguard isnt great art, but its a ton of fun

THE BODYGUARD from the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, book by Alexander Dinelaris (Mirvish). At the Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria)..

THE BODYGUARD from the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, book by Alexander Dinelaris (Mirvish). At the Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria). Runs to April 9. $38-$139. See listing. Rating: NNN

The Bodyguard is cheesy, unevenly acted and features yet another example of a white man coming to the rescue of a strong Black woman. But its also completely, shamelessly entertaining. And the Whitney Houston playlist adds immensely to the fun.

The Houston-Kevin Costner romantic thriller isnt great cinema, but, with a little tweaking of a character here and the addition of a bunch of other Houston songs there, it makes a solid live stage show.

Superstar singer/actor Rachel (Beverley Knight) has recently had her dressing room vandalized, the perpetrator having stolen a dress and left a note. So her handlers hire a bodyguard named Frank (Stuart Reid).

At first, Rachel isnt happy with the arrangement, especially since, in the plots most ludicrous detail, shes nominated for an acting Oscar and must make public appearances to get her face out there. But the strong, quiet Frank soon earns her trust and, wouldnt you know it? her love, although Rachels sister Nicki (Rachel John) also has a thing for him. (These women need to meet more available men. Dont they have Tinder?)

Writer Alexander Dinelaris has adapted Lawrence Kasdans screenplay cleverly, beefing up Nickis role, identifying the psycho stalker up front hes actually called The Stalker (Matthew Stathers) in the program! and providing some amusing platforms for the Houston song catalogue, particularly in a charming karaoke scene.

These songs are the primary reason to see the show, especially as belted out by UK queen of soul Knight, whose renditions of songs like Run To You, Queen Of The Night or that big showstopper/weeper I Will Always Love You are as passionate and deeply felt as her acting is stiff. Knight doesn’t attempt to impersonate Houston who could? She makes them her own. The fact that she sings this part six times a week is staggering.

Johns Nicki also gets to show off her pipes in a solo and many duets that exploit the melodramatic premise. And Reid, his English accent sometimes slipping through, has great stage presence but is mostly there to look good, like much of the male cast, who spend their time showing off their abs in Karen Bruces campy choreography.

Thea Sharrocks direction ranges from awkward (a fight sequence is incomprehensible) to gloriously over the top, thanks to garish video projections on Tim Hatleys unmemorable set.

Go for the musical numbers, which include one of the most infectiously enjoyable curtain calls since Mamma Mia!

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