bodyguard review

Review: The Bodyguard, New Wimbledon Theatre

Review: The Bodyguard, New Wimbledon Theatre

An exciting evening’s entertainment with real star quality – Jenny Booth reviews


The critics panned the 1992 film The Bodyguard, citing wooden acting and lack of chemistry between its superstar leads. ‘It’s like watching two statues attempting to mate,’ complained Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly on the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston pairing, in a scathing review that helped the film to a lowly 38% score on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator site. But, wait! The viewing public disagreed. Lawrence Kasdan’s “cheesy, melodramatic potboiler” got an 80% audience approval rating, and at one point was the 10th highest grossing film of all time. It just goes to prove that critics are often not the best judges of what’s enjoyable, and that there will always be a place for thrilling hokum.

And thrilling hokum is exactly what the musical The Bodyguard delivers in spades at New Wimbledon Theatre. This superior stage version offers excitement, jump scares, a real sense of threat, and even some genuine tender moments. Stripped of the film’s more lurid plot twists, the relationship between the lead characters is centre stage: and in Ayden Callaghan as Frank Farmer and former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton as Rachel Marron (click here to read our interview with Melody!), the diva he is hired to protect, the show has a central pairing with the talent to generate a believable amount of warmth and sexual tension The script does not offer much in the way of character depth, but they breathe life into what’s there. Emily-Mae puts in a wistful turn as talented, likeable Nikki, always overlooked and living in the shadow of her sister, while Marios Nikolaides as Marron’s stalker generates considerable menace, aided by some skilfully understated and suspenseful staging.

Fresh from her 2022 victory in Australia’s The Masked Singer, Thornton does a tremendous job delivering the show’s sensational musical numbers. Her powerful, expressive voice does justice to showstoppers like ‘Run to you ’and ‘One moment in time’, and reminds you why The Bodyguard is still the best-selling film soundtrack of all time. The ensemble numbers are high octane, with pounding drums and soaring guitar coupled with skimpy costumes and acrobatic dance moves. Dramatic moments – like the start of the show – are signalled by such a loud crash that the audience nearly jumps out of its skin. It’s an exciting evening’s entertainment with real star quality.

New Wimbledon Theatre, until 11 March

Image: THE BODYGUARD. Melody Thornton ‘Rachel Marron’ and Ayden Callaghan ‘Frank Farmer’. Photo Paul Coltas