Superb Alexandra Burke shines in The Bodyguard at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall

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Over the past decade, Alexandra Burke has surely completed the transition from her X-Factor days to musical theatre star, writes John Shawcroft.

After all, nearly 11 years have passed since she won it and subsequently topped the charts with Hallelujah.

Since then, she has starred in Chicago, Chess and Sister Act and become a finalist in Strictly Come Dancing. So it is high time to put the journalistic cliché X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke to rest.

If further proof were needed it is being demonstrated in her return to the role of The Bodyguard’s Rachel Marron in a new tour which includes Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall until Saturday 22 June.

The 1992 Whitney Houston film leaves Burke with a hard act to follow but her superb voice brings fresh light to the Houston classics and she has developed a highly credible stage presence which blends beautifully with Benoit Marechal as Frank Farmer in the Kevin Costner part.

Former secret service agent turned bodyguard Farmer is hired to protect superstar Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge – note Farmer’s unpopular changes to Marron’s mansion and her initial stand-offish coolness and near hostility - but what they don’t expect is to fall in love.

Such is the plot and while this is compelling enough it is the host of irresistible classics which dominate, particularly in the realistic concert scenes which transport the audience to spectacular arena events.

Show stoppers such as Queen of the Night, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, I Have Nothing, Greatest Love of All, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, I’m Every Woman and I Will Always Love You. Here, Burke is quite simply outstanding and for once that overworked phrase the audience was simply blown away has a ring of truth.

Another feature of the show is the quality of the scenery. Stunning use of backdrops combine with realistic stagings of Marron’s home, recording studios, down-trodden night clubs, Farmer’s isolated log cabin beside a lake in which sanctuary from the stalker is sought – we all know how that ends – and a really convincing karaoke bar in which Farmer’s awful version of I Will Always Love You nearly brings the house down.

You can take the quality of Burke’s voice as read but her acting and dancing skills have developed considerably since Bodyguard’s last visit to Nottingham a few years ago. Here Marechal is the perfect contrast and the stage chemistry between the two is exemplary.

Micha Richardson as Rachel’s sister Nicki also has some good moments and reveals a lovely voice, either solo or in a duet with Burke. The burly Craig Berry as Tony, in charge of the alleged security surrounding Rachel prior to Farmer’s arrival also convinces. Initially resentful and hostile to Farmer, mutual respect grows.

Gary Turner, Peter Landi, Phil Atkinson (the stalker) and Simon Cotton offer quality in supporting roles and half-a-dozen youngsters rotate the part of Rachel’s son Fletcher.

Jennlee Shallow plays the role of Rachel Marron in some performances. A guaranteed night and a superb show with a fine cast – with Burke’s voice the undoubted standout.

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