That about summarises the musical iteration that hit QPAC’s stages on Saturday, 22 July. Sacrificing substance for style, The Bodyguard is a high-energy show that counters a weak plot and flat characterisation with rousing Whitney favourites and plenty of flash. Literally. Certain numbers even include fire.
Australian songstress Paulini Curuenavuli plays Houston’s Rachel Marron, a diva threatened by a deranged stalker (Brendan Irving) who has no issues sneaking past her nonexistent security team. Veteran bodyguard Frank Farmer (Kip Gamblin) is hired to protect Rachel, her son Fletcher (Chetachi Nwaogazi), and her sister Nikki (Prinnie Stevens) from harm.
I won’t get into the plot holes, because with The Bodyguard, they don’t really matter. You’re not going for the wooden dialogue delivered between sets or the lack of appropriate emotional reactions to some — well, any — events, but the gaudy spectacle and the iconic movie moments. Cue a smokescreen as Frank carries Rachel off stage after rescuing her, lights enlarging and projecting the image to several times larger than life. Half the audience cheered; the other half nervously laughed. There was one factor that no one disagreed upon, however: Paulini’s vocals, powerful and masterful and able to handle anything from Queen of the Night to Jesus Loves Me.
I suppose it ultimately depends on what you want from your productions: I bemoaned the lack of believable character development — or characterisation in general — while my partner thought it was great, as he “loves mindless entertainment.”
At least by the end of the show, The Bodyguard stops pretending to be something more than a Whitney Houston tribute concert, with the audience clapping and dancing to Paulini’s rendition of I Wanna Dance With Somebody (I won’t lie — the energy is infectious.)
Would I shell out $100 for a ticket? Perhaps not, but for Houston fans or those wanting dazzling, flashy entertainment, it’s a fun escape. Maybe I’d change my mind if Paulini would sing for us the entire show, instead of wasting time with the half-baked story stringing her magnificent performances together.
The Bodyguard: The Musical runs at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre until 13 August.
Read our review of the Whitney Houston biopic Can I Be Me? here.