HIT West End musical, The Bodyguard finishes it’s run at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, Quays News entertainment reporter Francesca Eagleton went along…  

Starting with a bang, (quite literally) and finishing with a standing ovation. The hit West End touring production, has certainly made itself at home in Manchester this past month.

Based on the hit 1992 Whitney Houston film, co-starring Kevin Costner as former secret agent turned ‘Bodyguard,’ Frank Farmer. This blockbuster hit turned musical definitely wasn’t one to disappoint. It was clear to see when almost every performance in Manchester was a sold out success.

Filled to the brim with a whole host of chart topping beloved hits from; Queen of the Night, How Will I Know and of course everyone’s favourite…and IIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, (must stop channeling my inner Whitney). In fact, almost every song included in the show was one of Whitney’s beloved ballads. Which was certainly a delight to the enthusiastic audience full of Whitney fans.

The girl that fearlessly filled the boots of Whitney, was none other than 2002 Pop Idol finalist, Zoe Birkett. Zoe takes the lead role of Rachel Marron for the matinee performances, usually performed by XFactor 2008 winner Alexandra Burke.

If she had any nerves in taking on the role, she certainly didn’t show them. The audience were on the edge of their seats throughout and she undoubtedly gave me goose bumps, as she hit those show-stopping notes with such ease and confidence (Not forgetting that key change).

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She had us on a whole journey of emotions. From laughter to showing us great vulnerability in timeless ballads like; I Have Nothing and Run To You – performed as a duet with Melissa James, (who played the role of Nicki Marron).

By the end of it, I was all worn-out.

She was definitely the crowds ‘Queen of the matinee’. Which was clear to see from the crowds standing ovation, after her breathtaking finale rendition of I will always love you. Quickly followed by an encore of I Wanna Dance With Somebody, that had the entire theatre up on their feet.

However, Rachel’s sister Nicki Marron, (Melissa James) did at times give her a run for her money. Delivering a stand-out performance with impeccable vocals. We certainly felt sorry for her as we watched her confess her vulnerability to Frank, and admittedly confessing her love for him. Her version of Saving All My Love For You undeniably pulled on our heartstrings.

He may not have said one single word throughout the entire show, but actor Mike Denman certainly had us all on edge. His role of The Stalker was both disturbing and sinister (Admittedly, I may have had my hands covering my eyes at one point!). Gasps and screams were heard from the audience, as we were all in the firing line when his gun’s laser beam started scanning the auditorium!

Although there were plenty of moments to laugh throughout the show. From listening to a group of drunk girls singing Where Do Broken Hearts Go on karaoke, to a moment that won’t easily be forgotten when Stuart Reid, (playing the role Frank Farmer) sang a Johnny Cash inspired rendition of I Will Always Love You.

The show may have finished its run in Manchester, but there is still time to catch it, when it returns to the North-West at the Liverpool Empire Theatre, from April 26 – May 7.

Where I will certainly be making another appearance, as this show was one moment in time that I will never forget.

By: Francesca Eagleton
@FranEagleton

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