The Bodyguard is set to be one of the most hotly anticipated new musicals to hit the West End this year, prompted no doubt by the untimely death of singer Whitney Houston, who starred in the 1992 film. The casting of Tony Award-winning Broadway actress Heather Headley as Rachel Marron (the role Houston originally played) has previously been reported on, but as tickets for the musical went on sale this week, the additional casting of its other lead was announced. Stage and screen star Lloyd Owens is to play opposite Headley as Frank Farmer, the former Secret Service agent assigned as her bodyguard; in the film, the role was played by Hollywood actor Kevin Costner.
Owens comes from a theatrical family, with both his Welsh parents being actors. He trained at the National Youth Theatre and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), leaving early to tour with theatre company Cheek By Jowl performing Shakespeare’s plays. He has a long list of theatre credits to his name, but his most notable roles were as Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Almeida Theatre), Dan in Closer (Lyric Theatre), George in The York Realist (Royal Court Theatre) and Peter in Paul (Cottesloe, National Theatre). He was most recently on stage in Loyalty (Hampstead Theatre) and Blood and Gifts (National Theatre). Alongside his theatrical work, Owens has also had success in film and television. Many may recognise him from his recurring roles as Indiana Jones’ father in the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992-93) or Paul Bowman-MacDonald in Scotland’s Monarch of the Glen (2002-05), but he has also appeared in a number of big-screen films, including the 2006 film based on the life of poplar children’s author Beatrix Potter, Miss Potter, in which he played solicitor William Heelis whom she married.
With two such acclaimed names leading the musical, The Bodyguard is already promising to be a quality production, instead of one which is just cashing in on current trends.
While Owens’ casting has been confirmed, there are always rumours floating around about others. This week, the gossip mill has been at work on The Wizard of Oz. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of the classic musical is booking until 28th October 2012 and ‘word on the Strand’ is that these may be its last months before closing for good. Strictly star Russell Grant is currently performing as Professor Marvel/The Wizard at the Palladium but finishes his twelve-week run this month – it is believed that Des O’Connor may be the man who takes over from him to lead the musical along the final leg of its yellow brick road. TV presenter and singer O’Connor made his West End debut in 2011 in Dreamboats and Petticoats at the Playhouse Theatre where he played the roles of Older Bobby and Phil – Bobby’s Dad. With no official confirmation yet, it’s anyone’s guess as to how accurate the news is, but past experiences have shown how easily information leaks out and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a press release any day now…
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Friday 4th May 2012