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©Heather Headley /
© Heather Headley /
'The Bodyguard' stage musical opens in London
By JILL LAWLESS , Associated Press

LONDON (AP) -- Does "The Bodyguard" have the muscle to be a hit?

A stage musical based on the 1992 movie starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, has opened at London's Adelphi Theatre to a mixed critical reception -- but universal praise for its big-voiced star.

Reviewers raved Thursday about Heather Headley's performance as Rachel Marron, a superstar singer who falls for the former secret service agent (Lloyd Owen) assigned to protect her from a stalker.

Bing: 'Rocky' musical makes its debut

Critic Mark Shenton in The Stage newspaper found Headley -- an American actor and singer who has won both a Tony and a Grammy Award -- "an utterly compelling star" who combines "an authentic glamour and blazingly soulful vocals."

Evening Standard critic Henry Hitchings called her "mesmerizing," while the Daily Telegraph's Charles Spencer praised Headley's "sassy stage presence" and declared her renditions of songs such as "I Will Always Love You," to be even better than those by Houston, who died in February at age 48.

As for the rest of the show, some critics found campy fun where others saw just another uninspired jukebox musical.

The Guardian's Michael Billington damned "The Bodyguard" as "one more example of the necrophiliac musical morbidly attracted to a cinematic corpse."

He said that although staged with "enormous technical efficiency" it was "a sterile attempt to recapture the feel of a not very good romantic thriller, and turn the West End into a distant suburb of Hollywood."

In contrast, Times of London reviewer Libby Purves found it "absurd and hugely enjoyable," with terrible dialogue but "brilliantly clever" design and powerful performances.

She added that "the heart swells with British pride that this terrific all-American schlock is not a Broadway import," but the work of a London team, including director Thea Sharrock and designer Tim Hatley.

The Telegraph's Spencer predicted it would be a hit.

"'The Bodyguard' is dross with a gloss, and proof that if you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, you can sometimes come surprisingly close," he wrote.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Dec 6, 2012 12:14PM
Axlegrease- OMG--read up on Heather. She has one of the most amazing singing voices. I really do NOT think she has any 'skeletons' in HER closet.  Whitney was an amazing talent, herself, but fought 'demons' for many years - and long before she ever met Bobby Brown.
Dec 6, 2012 12:12PM
"a not very good romantic thriller"?

I wouldn't call it that.  The story could have been better but what really elevated the movie were the knockout musical performances from a singer who could REALLY sing, and not do a bad job credibly acting.  (Oh that, and the cinematic interracial romance thing was pretty pathbreaking for the time...)

"I Will Always Love You" was a showstopper, but what about "I Have Nothing"?  That takes some pipes, too.  (What was amazing is, so I have heard, Whitney recorded her stellar and signature "I Will Always Love You" in one take with a live orchestra - no post-production magic after the fact or behind the scenes.)

As for the movie, she had great makeup and hair, but those pseudo-flapper gaudy headdresses and weird space-babe outfits really didn't start any new fashion trends and kind of looked stupid onscreen.  Good thing the vocal performances overshadowed them.

The movie ending was appropriately bittersweet.  The closing slow-mo shot was genius and gave the story just the right amount of "reality" that not all fairy tale romances have happily-ever-after endings.

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