The Bodyguard Press Launch
With so many new musicals heading to the West End over the next year the race is on to see which will open first. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at which shows are on the horizon; from award winning Broadway blockbusters to spectacular new jukebox musicals – the next few months certainly sound exciting.
The first show to have confirmed its plans is the brand new screen to stage musical THE BODYGUARD which will open at the Adelphi Theatre on December 5th after previews from November 5 2012. At the press launch for the show on May 1st, Producer David Ian spoke of his excitement and love for the project, that has been almost six years in the works. The initial announcement of the show opening came a week after 48 year old singer and actress Whitney Houston, star of the original film, died in Los Angeles which has led many people to believe that the show hopes to ‘cash in’ on the hype surrounding the tragic circumstances. The show had previously been expected to open in the upcoming season, and so the timing seems to be a coincidence, heightened by Houston’s current presence in the world’s media. Producers however were quick to deny that the project had been hurried, speaking to a crowd of industry professionals about its long journey to the stage.
Director Thea Sharrock was approached tentatively by producer Michael Harrison who thoroughly expected the award winning National Theatre director to turn it down. Although she hasn’t got a name for musical theatre, Sharrock is a self confessed Whitney Houston fan, and told members at the press conference how she often used the film’s soundtrack in rehearsals to assist her actors. Her belief in the project was cemented after reading the faithful adaptation by Alexander Dinelaris, saying the film will make a perfect stage musical.
After a number of New York previews, Sharrock worked alongside Broadway icon Heather Headley, and was so blown away by her talent and ‘aura’, saying that if Headley was involved, she would be also. Headley was then introduced to the press by performing the number ‘I Have Nothing’ which brought down the house. Her charm, charisma and energy were clear for all to see, and her vocal confidence matched the style of the musical which will ultimatley lead to nightly standing ovations. Speaking of how humbled she was to have been asked to play the role made famous by Whitney Houston, Headley charmed the crowd, and was aware of the upcoming challenges but confident that the project would be a success. She was warm and convincing for her love of the show, coming across as wholehearted and genuine in every respect. Host Neil Fox then introduced her co-star Lloyd Owen to the stage, who will take on the part of the bodyguard played by Kevin Costner in the film. Although not a musical theatre actor, Owen’s credits stretch from The National Theatre to the RSC and the Young Vic and he spoke of how delighted he was to be a part of the project. Headley explained how she was initially worried about moving to London, but her husband convinced her that it was the role of a lifetime and a dream come true. She will be bringing her two year old son over for the run and will be joined by her husband every two weeks.
David Ian stressed how excited he was for the project, convinced that he had found a ‘perfect’ creative team as well as a ‘perfect’ venue in the Adelphi Theatre. Headley rounded up the event by performing the iconic number ‘I Will Always Love You’ which was met with rapturous applause.
THE BODYGUARD is based on the 1992 movie that starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, directed by Mick Jackson. The film quickly achieved iconic status, bringing in over $400 million in the world wide box office. Along with the lead characters the film also starred Garry Kemp and Bill Hobbs, and marked Houston’s on screen debut. The story revolves around a former Secret Service Agent turned bodyguard, who is employed to look after Hollywood actress Rachel Marron after she has received a number of death threats and assassination attempts. The film tells the story of the relationship between the actress (Houston) and her bodyguard (Costner) and is described as a ‘romantic thriller’. The film is more famously known for its iconic soundtrack, which featured a number of Whitney Houston hits, including ‘I Have Nothing’, ‘Run to You’ and ‘I’m Every Woman’. The film’s biggest number was ‘I Will Always Love You’ which shot to the number 1 spot around the world and projected Dolly Parton’s song into the public eye once again. The film’s soundtrack won a Grammy Award and has since sold over 44 million copies worldwide.
The Bodyguard Musical will use a number of Whitney Houston songs as its soundtrack, including all of the numbers from the film. Other songs such as ‘Saving All My Love For You’, ‘One Moment in Time’ and ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ are said to be included in the score, which will be performed live within the story, in a similar style to other jukebox musicals. The show will also be enhanced by original material which will account for roughly 25% of the overall score.
Headley will bring the role of Rachel Marron to the stage and deliver these now classic numbers. The 37 year old actor is no stranger to the stage, having won both a Tony Award and a Grammy Award for her recent performances. She originated the role of Nala in Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway, before opening Disney and Elton John’s musical Aida. She received great critical attention in the title role, taking home the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. In 2009 she rocked the charts with her first Gospel inspired solo album, winning the Grammy Award for Best R&B Gospel Album. She has performed in a number of musical theatre concerts around New York, including singing in Dreamgirls alongside Audra McDonald. For a full biography of the star, visit her official website.
The full creative team for the musical includes: Alexander Dinelaris (Book), Thea Sharrock (Director), Tim Hatley (Set and Costume Design), Arthur Pita (Choreographer), Mike Dixon (Musical Supervisor and Vocal Arrangements), Chris Eagan (Orchestrations and Musical Arrangements) Mark Henderson (Lighting Designer) Richard Brooker (Sound Designer) Michael Harrison and David Ian (Producers).
A behind the scenes video from the workshop of The Bodyguard Musical