Performing Whitney Houston songs night after night is a no small feat.
Powerhouse vocals and stellar choreography coupled with flawless mannerisms, unwavering emotion and instantaneous stage presence, are all elements that are needed to do the role justice, and one person who has crafted herself into the whole package, is none other than the new leading lady herself, Alexandra Burke.
The 25-year-old recently joined hugely popular West End musical ‘The Bodyguard’, taking over from Beverley Knight as Rachel Marron on June 2nd, who as everyone knows was portrayed by the late Whitney Houston in the 1992 film of the same name. The storyline of the musical follows the basis of the film, with a few added extras and interesting twists, and for the most part has become accustomed to spectacular reviews and rave recommendations.
Aside from seeing the odd, irrelevant article floating around of course, this time stating that the ‘Start Without You’ singer was responsible for the show closing at the end of August, and that ticket sales were low, and that the theatre is empty, and that her hair is purple and that her foot fell off, and blah blah blah… see, I’m actually sat here yawning at the audacity. I’m tired of seeing false allegations, and deliberate attempts to sabotage someone who is doing so well. So well in fact, that negative press concocted by certain bitter journalists has had no affect whatsoever, which must be a bit of a kick in the face, but I guess that’s what you get when you try to bring someone down, right? Oops. Besides, having seen the show numerous times now, I can confirm the auditorium is always full, and tickets are selling out, but most importantly, it’s well known knowledge that The Bodyguard was ending indefinitely at the end of August, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Burke was joining the show. Well, this is rather awkward isn’t it? Maybe, somebody should have done their research properly instead of printing lies, it’s hardly as difficult as trying to solve a broken Rubik’s cube as you attempt to walk on water…
‘The Bodyguard Musical‘ begins with a loud bang, as the screen flashes up with a introduction of Rachel Marron, before Burke appears dressed in Black and Gold, and fearlessly storms onto the stage with opening number ‘Queen Of The Night,’
Burke’s co-star, Tristan Gemmill plays the role of bodyguard Frank Farmer, who’s job it is to protect the star and her son Fletcher from the Stalker, played by Michael Rouse. The two have an undeniable chemistry onstage, and often have the audience in hysterics.
Carole Stennett plays the role of Nikki Marron and is vastly underrated, her vocals can also hold a candle to Whitney’s and one of my favourite moments in the musical is when Stennett and Burke both perform a rendition of ‘Run To You,” where I don’t quite know who to watch. However, when Burke stands up and flawlessly delivers a ridiculous run mid-way through, my eyebrows immediately shoot up as I wonder where on earth this voice has just appeared from, the acrobatics continue into the second half where she delivers another blistering vocal display in ‘All The Man I Need,’ especially when she’s in the studio delivering a rendition so ferocious it could probably smash a window as it bounces off the richter scale – I often feel like I should be wearing armour, just in case.
‘I’m Every Woman’ is the best up-tempo in my opinion, although ‘So Emotional’ can also challenge that title, but the previous one is enhanced by a fearsomely fiery display of formidable choreography and a shattering dance breakdown, coupled with the focus and the feistiness that’s reminiscent of a certain other, American superstar. To put it simply, Burke just goes IN, so much so that one time a stud flew of her dress and landed on me, but that’s okay. But the highlight of the first half of the show is definitely the captivating performance of ‘I Have Nothing‘, which is my favourite Whitney song and Burke’s performance of it just gets better every single time, the emotion is impeccable and unmatched, I don’t think I could describe it if I tried, so let me just leave that that there, but Burke’s acting during this scene always has me in hysterics, the sassiness in her mannerisms and facial expressions is pure comedy, it’s just so ‘her’ and I think that’s probably why I laugh so much. ‘Paula’ is definitely my favourite, she needs a medal of some sort – you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen the show.
‘One Moment In Time’ is another highlight and always manages to get to me somehow (I need to get waterproof mascara) I know why it does, but that’s something I’m going to wait for everyone else to see and determine for themselves, but I know I’m not the only one who envisions the same thing. It’s followed by the performance of the night, none other than ‘I Will Always Love You‘, as Burke dons a stunning feather dress and really hits a home run with her effortless vocals and pristine delivery, wholly executed in such a faultless manner, it’s no wonder she tends to get well-deserved standing ovations half way through, but she still manages to perform like it’s her last ever performance, with the audience up on their feet.
As the show draws the a close, I’m actually glad ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody‘ is the encore, as Burke draws everyone to their feet yet again, whilst wearing the signature bright dress, and proclaims “I wanna’ see your hands up,” as the audience obliges. Co-stars, Gemmill, Stennett, Rouse and the others all hilariously join in, everyone’s dancing, clapping, or waving their hands in the air to what is the last performance of the night, before the cast disappear behind the curtain – and the musical ends.
Every single time I watch the Bodyguard, I always feel like i’m watching it for the first time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so happy, and it’s refreshing seeing someone truly enjoy what they’re doing, you can tell she really wants to be there. But what I think I love the most is that the best is still yet to come, you know? Nobody, and nothing can stop what’s meant to be, and I just can’t wait to see what’s next.
Alexandra Burke is starring in The Bodyguard Musical at London’s Adelphi Theatre until August 29. Tickets are available here.
In the meantime, check out the trailer below!