Once a movie, now the musical and while neither reach any dramatic highs, this show does enough to leave audiences smiling. It’s a visceral sensual experience from the start with thermal flairs and gunshots a visual feast of colour and lights – and then you have Paulini. A show like this, which is essentially a vehicle for the Whitney Houston songbook, was always going to need a special voice and big stage presence. Paulini delivers in spades. She has come a long way since her Australian Idol days. Her voice powers effortlessly through the big production numbers but really shines when she holds back a little on the more tender ballads. Her pitch and tone is flawless – worth the price of a ticket alone.
The story is simple. Rachel Marron (Paulini) is a pop diva with a stalker problem. Frank Farmer (Kip Gamblin) is the chisel-jawed bodyguard who falls for her – and in the way of the bullet with her name on it. It’s a story that really serves to connect the musical numbers. Most of the characters are faintly drawn with little chance to develop, though Prinnie Stevens lifts her character from the rest with an endearing performance as Rachel’s sister. Gamblin struggles with a lack of decent material and the big stage constraints. There is enough wooden dialogue and crass double entendres, to wonder whether this may have been intentional.
But the songs have plenty of hooks, the band are terrific, the dancing is tight and energetic with plenty of ‘abs’ on view if you like that sort of thing – which is why you would go to a show like this in the first place – right?
Until Jul 2. Various performance times. Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star, Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont. $69 – $159. Tickets & Info: www.thebodyguardmusical.com.au
Reviewed by Greg Webster.