British soul singer Beverley Knight is to play the role made famous by Whitney Houston in a West End stage show based on The Bodyguard.

The Shoulda Woulda Coulda star has agreed to take over from the show's current lead, fellow singer Heather Headley, when she steps down later this year (13).

The big budget show, which launched in December (12), is based on the 1992 movie of the same name which featured Houston as a pop superstar who falls in love with a bodyguard played by Kevin Costner.

Knight says of her theatre debut, "I know how to get inside the emotion of a song and deliver it to an audience in a way that doesn't overwhelm them. But it's a different kind of performance, with a different kind of energy. But one thing I'm certainly used to is opening my mouth and singing."

The show's producers had initially consider Knight for the lead role when the production was in development, but the star was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts.

Director Thea Sharrock tells Britain's Daily Mail, "She was one of the obvious people to meet..." adding "Beverley's got to learn to run the marathon several times a week. But she's unbelievably well prepared."

Knight will start rehearsals in August (13) and will begin performances in September (13), while Headley is expected to front a planned Broadway production of the show which could launch as early as next year (14).