The Bodyguard in Southampton - star quality and power in a sizzling show

THE BODYGUARD. Emily Williams 'Rachel Marron' and Company. Photo Paul Coltas (Photo: Paul Coltas)
THE BODYGUARD. Emily Williams 'Rachel Marron' and Company. Photo Paul Coltas (Photo: Paul Coltas)

If you are going to play a superstar, then you are going to need oodles of star quality – and Emily Williams has certainly got that as she absolutely dazzles in The Bodyguard. Hers is quite a challenge, not simply stepping into those fabled Whitney Houston shoes, but also delivering a performance which captures both a recording artist at the height of her powers and an increasingly scared mum who knows she’s being stalked. Williams (see interview here) nails it all, sizzling in the songs she sings as Rachel Marron the performer, but also giving us all the vulnerability of someone worryingly exposed. It’s a truly mesmerising performance in one of the best shows at the Mayflower this year.

And in his very different way Ayden Callaghan (Emmerdale, Hollyoaks) is every bit her match as Frank Farmer, the bodyguard of the title who is brought in to protect her. She’s feisty and she’s independent – and at first the sparks fly. But as the threat level rises, so she realises her need – and so the two of them fall for each other. It’s gently, sweetly done – and then of course there is the reaction when Frank realises he risks taking his eye off the ball the moment love comes into it…

Williams and Callaghan give us two big clashing personalities inevitably drawn to each other – and they do so with presence, wit and huge skill. Terrific too from Emily-Mae as Rachel’s sister, an intriguing character who realised early on she had to play second fiddle to Rachel and shelve her own singing ambitions. As for the threat, it’s very cleverly done, projections and lighting maximising the menace as danger gets ever closer. And in amongst it all, we get those fabulous songs, fabulously sung – and with the sharpest choreography. A cracking story brilliantly delivered in a cracking show. And as the young boy, Sam Stephens was just incredible – a remarkable talent.