Beverley Knight is revisiting the role of Rachel in The Bodyguard, the musical based on the Whitney Houston movie. She first played it in London in 2013.
Beverley Knight sings like Whitney Houston, moves like Tina Turner and is a TV quiz show champion.With those credentials, it’s no surprise she reigns in the role of Rachel Marron, the singing star in the musical The Bodyguard.Knight had never acted professionally before tackling the role in its original London production in 2013, but she had many award-winning albums to her credit and the title the British Queen of Soul.
“I was doing what I basically do, showing off,” laughs Knight in an interview.
The musical is a theatrical version of the 1992 film that starred Houston and Kevin Costner. It began performances this weekend at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.Knight got the role of Rachel when she was playing around on Twitter and noticed the original lead in the West End version of The Bodyguard was stepping down. She inquired about trying out and got the part right away.
“I thought, ‘I can do that. I’ve got enough experience with this American character. I’ve got some acting skills.’ Then I thought, ‘What have I done? This isn’t amateur hour.’”
Knight says she had always idolized Houston and had seen her as a teen in the Bodyguard movie so getting a chance to play the character, a singing diva whose body guard protects her from a stalker, was exciting.
She saw Houston perform late in her career, by which time she couldn’t hit the high notes, but “what she could do was still great.”
Knight is also a fan of Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Tina Turner, and grew up listening to Sam Cooke on the family’s record player.
“A lot of people say I have a lot of Tina Turner,” says Knight. Her moves in a performance during the Mirvish Productions season announcement certainly evoked the leggy, fast-footed Turner.
Knight left the cast of The Bodyguard in London in 2014, moving on to Memphis the Musical, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award, Britain’s version of the Tony Awards. “I can’t explain how much that meant to me,” she says.
Then Andrew Lloyd Webber asked her to play the iconic role of Grizabella in Cats at the London Palladium. “I had scars and so many wrinkle lines I didn’t recognize myself.”
She returned to The Bodyguard in London for a limited run in 2016 before joining the Toronto production.But divas aren’t Knight’s only musical interest.She’s also a huge rock fan, and she opened for and played with Prince.
“I still haven’t gotten over it yet,” she says of his death last year.
Knight’s extensive knowledge of Prince led to her winning an episode of the BBC quiz show Celebrity Mastermind in 2010. She beat three other contestants, including former Conservative leader Michael Howard, whose category was the Liverpool Football Club.Knight has also collaborated on albums with Canadians Bryan Adams and Tom Cochrane, whose home on a lake north of Toronto she visited three years ago.She says she’s thrilled to be back in Canada (although she was disappointed by the lack of snow when she landed). She first visited the country as a teenager on an exchange to Portland, Ore., when her hosts took her on a three-day visit to Vancouver.
“I decided then and there Canada was awesome,” she says.