Chad Reviews "The Bodyguard: The Musical"
It was the beginning of the 1990s, and the conventions of pop and R&B music on the radio had a clear cut queen of the airwaves in Whitney Houston. After an astoundingly successful debut in the latter half of the previous decade, she quickly established herself not just as an urban contemporary favorite but also as a true crossover artist achieving huge success on multiple formats both on the air and on the charts. Much like the career path of Prince with “Purple Rain” in 1984, Whitney cemented her stronghold on the zeitgeist of the early ‘90s pop-culture mainstream with a feature film in which she basically played herself alongside Kevin Costner as her hired protector in “The Bodyguard.” The success of the film propelled her even further into superstardom than anyone imagined, reassuring iconic status both of Whitney Houston and the film itself, so it seems only fitting that the source material would makes its way back into the public consciousness in the form of a stage musical currently featuring another R&B powerhouse in Deborah Cox with “The Bodyguard: The Musical,” currently at Music Hall at Fair Park and playing through July 30th.
Cox plays the lead role of Rachel Marron, a musical diva on the verge of winning her first Oscar. In the wake of a promotional tour for her big awards push a stalker emerges by leaving dark messages for her and escalating to threatening her life, and when her security detail fails to apprehend him, former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer (Judson Mills) is contacted to tighten things up. After meeting with Rachel and her sister Nicki (Jasmin Richardson), Frank quickly realizes that his client is more than just a bit resistant to his advice, and her sister seems to have taken a personal interest in Frank himself. Frank must constantly keep his personal feelings in check while at the same time doing everything within reason to keep his strong willed and resistant client alive.
This production was an absolute tour-de-force of musical talent, with Jasmin Richardson doing an outstanding job as the voice behind the voice not just as a rather convincing supporting role but as a remarkable vocalist in her own right. Judson Mills does the best that he can with what he has to work with, but even though it’s the title role, he really doesn’t have much to work with, coming off as a rather one-dimensional character. The primary reason that this production succeeded for me is simply in Deborah Cox, whose portrayal doesn’t come off as a Whitney Houston Impersonation/Cabaret performance, but an opportunity for Deborah to truly shine, and WOW does she shine! She becomes a force of nature on stage that you can neither take your eyes off of nor grow tired of listening to. She’s simply stunning in every facet of what she does and how she does it. I hope this role gives her career the shot in the arm it needs and helps put her in the spotlight she so clearly deserves as it continues to tour the country, so make sure to take the time to see it!