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Reviews

20th Sep 2023

Gunshots, fire, and karaoke: The Bodyguard Musical is simply spectacular

Katy Thornton

The most exciting Tuesday night I’ve had in a long time, and I rewatched Barbie last week.

The Bodyguard has landed at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, and it was absolutely heaving with people on opening night, an electric excitement palpable as we all prepared for the show to start.

Even as someone who hasn’t seen the whole 1992 film that the musical is based off, the anticipation of what was to come was not lost on me, never moreso than when the show began with the sound of a very loud gunshot. I’d say I settled in for the 2 hour show, but that wouldn’t be accurate – the phrase “I was on the edge of my seat” has never been more literal.

Why you should go? 

If you’re in any way a Whitney Houston fan, be it die-hard or just love to sing along to “Wanna Dance with Somebody” you should head to the Bord Gáis Theatre to see this musical. This is a show that almost doubles as a concert, with vocals that sound eerily similar to the late superstar.

The Backstory

Based of course off the 1992 Oscar-nominated film starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, this timeless love story translates seamlessly to the stage, somewhere between a concert and a drama.

For mid-90s babies and younger who are somewhat unfamiliar with the story (like myself, I’m ashamed to admit) The Bodyguard follows former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, who has been hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker.

Described as a romantic thriller, The Bodyguard doesn’t let up for even a moment, hooking you with the fizzing connection between Rachel, played by Emily Williams and Frank, played by Ayden Callaghan (who has appeared in Hollyoaks and Emmerdale) but also the literal jump scares every time Rachel’s stalker, played by Marios Nicolaides, makes an appearance.

The Highlight

Oftentimes with the stage it’s hard to get the emotional weight of what’s being performed across, but that wasn’t the case with The Bodyguard. The production masterfully changed in tone when appropriate, building suspense throughout, reminding the audience of the impending danger every time you got a little too comfortable in your seat (often with the sound of a gunshot that literally had you jump out of your skin).

This is a show that is almost cinematic in all aspects – the ever-changing set, the story-telling, the use of projections, the sound quality, the multiple costume changes for Rachel in particular, the commitment of the actors to their roles – the musical pushes the boundaries of story-telling through live performance to the limit, and the audience reaps the rewards of this risk in droves.

Naturally a highlight of this particular show is the music. It becomes increasingly more difficult to not sing along as Rachel and Nicki (Emily-Mae) belt out classics as “So Emotional”, “One Moment in Time”, and “I Will Always Love You” – but you almost wouldn’t dare given the magnitude of their vocal range. It’s the kind of singing you can feel in your chest as an audience member, and this show would be nothing without talent like that.

And yet, unlike other musicals, while the music might facilitate the story, but it doesn’t necessarily tell the story, which will likely be a pro for those not as into musicals. Of the cast only Rachel and Nicki really sing, with a nice attempt from Frank during the karaoke bar scene, and Rachel’s son Fletcher, played last night by Manasseh Mapira, who features in several of the bigger musical numbers, stealing scenes and eliciting fierce applause.

In fact, at times the musical almost felt more like a Whitney Houston concert, with all the bells and whistles (and fire, yes, literal fire) you would expect for someone of her fame. The actresses who play Nicki and Rachel have the kind of voices that are unmatched, with some of the most memorable performances and impressive vocals I have seen in the many years I have been going to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

So yeah, you could say there were a few highlights.

Accessibility

According to their website, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre supports “equal access” and opposes “all forms of unlawful or unfair discrimination.” If you need to book specific seating for an access need, you can contact the Group Bookings and Access Department. They are happy to assist with:

  • Wheelchair access seating.
  • Seating near an exit.
  • Particular access needs due to medical conditions.
  • Assistive Listening Loop Devices.
  • Bookings for access performances.

A note to be made about The Bodyguard in particular – it’s not advised for children under 10 years old, and there are strobe effects, flashing lights, haze, fire, and loud noises from the outset.

Overall Thoughts

Of all the shows I’ve recently seen at the Bord Gáis, this is quite possibly my favourite – not only have I been humming the songs to myself, I’m very tempted to stick on the 1992 film to relive the magic a mere 24 hours after watching it on stage.

This show had everything you could ask for from a romantic thriller – a believable love story that you are invested in from the moment the two characters meet, a very real threat of danger that overhangs every happy moment, and a story that genuinely leaves you on the verge of tears due to tragedy (but I won’t spoil it on the off chance you haven’t seen the film – I think I benefitted greatly from my ignorance in that I was genuinely shocked at some of the twists and turns).

The Bodyguard is only playing at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until September 23rd, with a matinee and an evening show on Thursday 21st and Saturday 23rd, and if it wasn’t clear from this review, I implore you to not miss out on such an incredible performance.

Tickets start from €31.50 and you can purchase them HERE.

Header image via Instagram / Emily Willaims 

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