by Tony Flood

Multi-platinum Australian recording artist Emily Williams brilliantly recreates the magic of Whitney Houston in an excellent stage version of hit musical The Bodyguard.
The talented soprano’s powerful range and extraordinary stamina captivates us with a string of solo renditions including show stoppers I Have Nothing, Run to You and I Will Always Love You.
Emily, who starred in the 2017 Australian production, also reveals impressive acting skills in the demanding role of Rachel Marron which Whitney played in the iconic 1992 film. Like Whitney, she shows both the assertiveness and vulnerability of strong willed superstar Rachel, who needs to be protected from an unknown murderous stalker.
Former secret service agent Frank Farmer is hired as her bodyguard. Ayden Callaghan makes an ideal Frank, capturing perfectly the way his stoic character’s no-nonsense attitude starts to soften towards Rachel, and Ayden comes close to matching the charisma of Kevin Costner in the film.
Marios Nicolaides, as the sinister stalker, helps provide the necessary tension and fear that affects Rachel, her sister Niki and son Fletcher. These latter roles are superbly filled by 11-year-old Manasseh Mapira and Emily-Mae, who gives a delightful rendition of Saving All My Love for You. The part of Fletcher is shared with Ryo Appadu, Kaylen Luke and Sam Stephens.
John Macaulay, Graham Elwell, James Groom and Phil Atkinson offer excellent support.
There’s also dazzling dance routines choreographed by Karen Bruce.
The cast benefits from the shrewd direction of Thea Sharrock and Mark Hedges and musical direction of Laurence Stannard, standing in on Monday for Sam Hall.
As the story unravels, we are taken into Rachel’s home, a bar and a cabin – well designed by Tim Hatley. It is not possible to emulate fully the drama of the cinema screen, but Mark Henderson’s lighting effects and stunning videos provided by Duncan McLean create a chilling atmosphere.
It adds up to a winning formula that makes for an entertaining, fast-paced production by
Michael Harrison and David Ian.