If singer Beverley Knight has been long harbouring a desire to move into musical theatre, she can be assured it’ll never be a case of Shoulda Woulda Coulda now with the news she will star in The Bodyguard from September.
The multi award-winning recording artist will take on the iconic leading role of superstar diva Rachel Marron from 9 September, with Casualty star Tristan Gemmill stepping into the role of her bodyguard and love interest, Frank Farmer.
The pair, who are announced alongside the news that the show has extended its run until 8 March, will take over from Olivier Award nominated Heather Headley and Lloyd Owen who originated the parts when the production made its world premiere last December to critical acclaim, with The Independent describing Thea Sharrock’s screen to stage adaptation as “sleekly assured” and the show winning four nominations at April’s Olivier Awards with MasterCard.
While this will mark Knight’s acting debut, the platinum selling I Am What I Am artist is no stranger to performing live having toured extensively since the release of her debut album in 1995. Speaking about her new endeavour, Knight said: “To be making my West End theatre debut playing such an iconic role is both somewhat challenging and highly exhilarating and it will be nothing but a privilege to perform the best of Whitney Houston’s extraordinary catalogue each night on stage at the Adelphi theatre. I first heard Whitney’s music when she made her debut and exploded onto the scene with Saving All My Love For You when I was 13 years old. I have been mesmerised ever since.”
Her forthcoming co-star Gemmill boasts more experience on the stage having begun his career working for companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company and English Touring Theatre, making his West End debut in the 1994 production of Rope at the Wyndham’s theatre before becoming a familiar face on screen for his long-running role as Dr Adam Trueman in BBC medical drama Casualty.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge but one I can’t wait to get started on,” Gemmill commented. “Being responsible for protecting my co-star, the phenomenally talented Beverley Knight and to hear her performing Whitney Houston’s timeless classics each night will be something very special and I’m very much looking forward to getting on board and starting rehearsals with this incredible company.”
The musical retells the story made famous in the 1992 film, which starred the late Houston whose many songs feature in the production, and centres on the relationship between star Rachel Marron and the bodyguard she is forced to hire when she comes under threat from an unknown stalker.
Sharrock’s thrilling production will see Debbie Kurup continue in her Olivier Award nominated role of Nicki Marron, with Richard Lloyd King, Stephen Marcus, Dominic Taylor, Michael Rouse and Stuart Reid joining the leading performers.
Current Rachel, Headley will play her last performance at the Adelphi theatre on 10 August before the role is temporarily handed over to Gloria Onitiri until Knight’s first performance on 9 September. Knight will then share the iconic role with Joelle Moses, who will perform on Wednesday and Saturday matinees.
"To be making my West End theatre debut playing such an iconic role is both somewhat challenging and highly exhilarating."