As Beverley Knight leaves the cast of The Bodyguard for Memphis, a new pop star has taken on the role of superstar diva Rachel Marron, but can Alexandra Burke fill the large boots left behind by Knight and Heather Headley?
I can't comment on how Burke's performance matches up to her predecessors - last night was the first time I've seen the show, based on the 1992 movie starring Whitney Houston - however I can say that the X Factor winner ticks every box for me. Whilst the songs appear to have been transposed to fit Burke's lower range, she performs each with gusto. With the production, choreography and costume changes - of which there are many - combined, the evening often feels more like a high budget music concert than a musical. In a recent interview, Burke told me she was offered the role some time back but turned it down to do acting lessons before making her West End debut, I'm pleased to say that the acting lessons have paid off and she provides a believable and, at times, touching performance.
Tristan Gemmill provides sturdy accompaniment as bodyguard Frank Farmer and Carole Stennett is equally well cast as Rachel's jealous sister, David O'Mahony's menacing performance as the Stalker sent shivers down my spine. But the real star of this show is the design, Tim Hatley's set is striking and effective, with backdrops snapping open and shut like camera shutters. Mark Henderson's lighting is on the money too, the cherry on the cake of a wonderfully executed show.
The Bodyguard is a high-octane show with a medley of memorable musical numbers that will have you wishing you were on stage in the karaoke scene.
Check out our photos from media night here.