Rebirth of a Diva

After success in London, The Bodyguard settles into its new home at the Ronacher

Singers die, but their songs live on. At least, that’s the reasoning behind Bodyguard – the Musical, a stage adaptation of the 1992 movie of the same name that launched the career of soul diva Whitney Houston. While the film’s somewhat generic love story was not particularly noteworthy, it remains iconic thanks to Houston, who electrified audiences with her Grammy Award-winning renditions weaved into the narrative. With so many memorable songs, it’s perfect material for a stage spectacle, but the cast certainly has big shoes to fill; and while never quite channeling the charm or star power that made the original so memorable, The Bodyguard does manage to entertain.

Based on a British production that opened to resounding success at London’s West End in 2012, Vienna’s version keeps the lyrics in English but dialogue in German, with English surtitles projected high above the stage – so don’t sit too close if you need to read them. The many critically acclaimed songs from the film’s soundtrack – the bestselling movie score of all time – are joined by numerous hits by Houston, making the show double as an homage to the late soul queen. Indeed, the adapted plot not only changes the setting to the present day but mirrors many of the singer’s life events, including the difficulties of being a celebrity. But the original premise remains: After receiving numerous death threats, pop icon Rachel Marron is forced to hire bodyguard and former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer to protect her and her family at all times. Initially dismissive of the danger to her person, Marron is frequently at odds with Farmer’s no-nonsense attitude, but over time, the two fall in love; yet the stalker remains, casting a dark shadow over the romance until the story’s conclusion.

The show gets off to a bumpy start with an extremely loud gunshot and epileptic strobe lights during the beginning number “Queen of the Night,” but the production quickly hits its groove, wowing with glitzy costumes and large, perfectly choreographed dance routines. The Ronacher used movable walls to instantly create bedrooms, backstage dressing rooms and hallways, with the most impressive a full-size rotating log cabin, possibly recycled from its previous production of Tanz der Vampire, which only ended in June. Tertia Botha as Rachel Marron delivers each ballad effortlessly, masterfully drawing out the iconic “I” in the showstopping “I Will Always Love You.” In contrast, Kevin Costner’s stand-in as the bodyguard, the well-known German soap actor Jo Weil, doesn’t get to sing, but has an easy charisma that makes him a credible love interest for a capricious diva, even getting through a ludicrous comic relief karaoke scene with dignity intact. Siya Urbanitsch-Schlacher and Ana Milva Gomes were also noteworthy as Marron’s son and sister, respectively, with Gomes joining Botha for “Run to You,” the most tear-jerking duet of the night. In addition, the chorus line consistently delivered amazing feats of acrobatics and vocals throughout the night. At times, they even seemed to be carrying the show. With the huge cinematic success of the original and the unforgettable performance of one of the pre-eminent vocalists of recent history, it would be easy to pick apart the adaptation, but the cast delivered a solid performance. By the final number, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” the audience was elated and dancing in the aisles after a standing ovation, celebrating the rebirth of an icon.

Rule of Three

Choreographer Jan Martens asks you to dive into a world of stimuli

Third time’s the charm, at least according to the Belgian choreographer Jan Martens: In his latest dance installation, Rule of Three, he uses light, color and sound to draw attention to how quickly humans perceive their surroundings, processing information in mere split seconds – but in our hectic times, sensory overload is always a risk. The goal is for the audience to live through three states: aesthetics, emotions and reflection, with live percussion provided by the Philadelphia-based artist NAH on percussion while three dancers perform on stage. Following the performance on Dec 7, Martens himself will hold an exclusive artist talk.

Dec 6-7, 19:30, Tanzquartier. 7.,Museumsplatz 1.

Dita von Teese

The queen of burlesque graces the Vienna stage

While Dita Von Teese’s extensive career has included glamor and fetish modeling as well as acting, she’s best known for her wasp waist, penchant for corsets and, most importantly, her role in the revival of the previously lost art of burlesque. Trained as a dancer from a young age, von Teese also worked in a lingerie store as a teenager, sparking her passion for elaborate and sensual vintage styles. She began performing burlesque in 1992, “putting the tease back into striptease” with extravagant acts inspired by classic movies. Some of her most complicated routines involve props such as carousel horses, a giant martini glass, a clawfoot bathtub with a working showerhead and oversized ostrich feather fans. Currently touring across Europe with her latest show, The Art of the Teese, at the age of 46 she’s as effervescent as ever, asserting that “we have to stand up for beauty and sensuality and eroticism at all stages of life.”

Nov 20, 20:30, Stadthalle, 15., Roland-Rainer-Platz 1.