See Tickets


REVIEW: The Bodyguard a Sunderland Empire

   A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The Bodyguard 

Sunderland Empire

Until Saturday 18 February 2023

Tickets: *

A musical based upon the 1992 hit movie, packed full of classic Whitney Houston hits and starring former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton, The Bodyguard rolled into the iconic Wearside venue this week.

Ayden Callaghan 'Frank Farmer' and Melody Thornton 'Rachel Marron'.
Photo Paul Coltas and Matt Crockett

The story used in the musical follows that of the film - and compared to some recent adaptations, it fits the stage setting well. The book by Alexander Dinelaris has enough action to keeps ones attention, add in the regular slices of classic music and it is easy to see why the show is so popular and has already nearly sold out it's one week run in Sunderland. 

Melody Thornton appears as Rachel Marron - a pop superstar that has sold over 25 million records as well as winning numerous Grammy Awards and having two Oscar nominations. The show starts with her in full show mode. The ensemble of dancers don't put a foot wrong as they support her, sometimes literally, around the stage. The lighting and pyro effects helping turn this corner of Sunderland into an arena style occasion. 

Photo: Matt Crockett

Unfortunately someone has got in to her dressing room, stolen a dress and left a worrying note. Rachel's manager decides to hire a bodyguard to supplement their existing security Tony (Graham Elwell). The jobs also involves keeping her 10 year old son Fletcher safe - a role performed wonderfully by the very confident Iesa Miller on this evening's show.

Ayden Callaghan, who lists Emmerdale and Hollyoaks amongst his television credits, has the role of bodyguard Frank Farmer, who  accepts the challenge after walking into the Marron's house without any proper challenge. 

The story then follows the pop star as they prepare to make an appearance in the Oscars despite the fact that their stalker (Marios Nicolaides) is becoming increasing confident and calculated in his interactions.

The audience is also introduced to Rachel's sister Nicki (Emily-Mae) who also sings, but does so in small clubs. There is clearly some siblings friction as success was only bestowed upon one of them.

For this production to work, in addition to tight direction from Thea Sharrock and great choreography from Karen Bruce, there needs to be great singing performances. I may be controversial in this - but I always feel that a singer is better off owning a cover rather than trying to replicate a popular version. In other words Melody Thornton has a great night by singing the songs as she finds them rather than replicating the singles we grow up with. Thus some songs are performed with more soul and a different quality to the Houston originals.  This level of agency makes her performance more authentic. Of course when she gets the finale hit, Thornton lets rip with I Will Always Love You and this does not disappoint.

Mention should also be given to Emily-Mae's contribution to the singing too as she is a fine singer. Likewise the live band under musical director  Sam Hall backed the live singing really well.

Now, sometimes when you get big names from the worlds of television and pop to stick on the poster you end up with a show that is less than satisfying as a stage show. Fortunately, in this case Ayden Callaghan and Melody Thornton had sufficient chemistry on stage together. The rest of the ensemble cast and dancers were important in bringing the film to life.

I have not mentioned any spoilers here - needless to say that the lighting and sound were utilised to good effect to get a reaction from the audience.

The Bodyguard did not disappoint. As a musical adaptation it works and I enjoyed it.

Review: Stephen Oliver


The Bodyguard will hit Sunderland Empire’s stage from Monday 13 February – Saturday 18 February 2023. Tickets are available from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 7615* or online at *

*A £3.65 transaction fee applies to telephone and online bookings. Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your standard network charge.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.