Rob Reviews "The Bodyguard: The Musical"
If you are over the age of twenty-five, “The Bodyguard” has impacted you in some way, shape or form. The 1992 blockbuster, which made almost half a billion dollars worldwide, made Whitney Houston a bona fide movie star and further pushed Kevin Costner into the public consciousness. The soundtrack (also the biggest selling soundtrack of all time by over 20 million copies sold) produced five HUGE hits including Houston’s version of the Dolly Parton opus “I Will Always Love You,” which you could not throw a rock and not hit for about half a decade and has been sung in every karaoke bar EVER (I can attest to it). The story of Rachel Marron, a pop star trying to cross over into acting while a stalker draws closer to her and prompting her to have bodyguard Frank Farmer hired to keep her and her son, Fletcher, safe resonated with audiences everywhere and with the popularity of current musicals based on Hollywood properties like “Dirty Dancing,” it is now a traveling production, making its way to Dallas’ Music Hall at Fair Park through July 30th.
Stepping into the role of Rachel here is R&B artist Deborah Cox, and if all you know of her is her hit single “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here,” you really should dig a bit deeper into her catalog to see her absolute precisioned vocal acrobatics. (Her cover of The S.O.S. Band’s “Just Be Good to Me” is worth the research ALONE.) By doing so, it is very easy to understand how she absolutely OWNS the role of Rachel Marron in this production. The brilliance to me in this performance is that she doesn’t try to emulate Whitney in any way, shape, or form and by owning the role for herself, the respect for the originator of the role shines through in a way that is incredibly respectful. Cox absolutely BRINGS IT here in a way that melted my brain, and I already had her held to an incredibly high standard when I walked in the door. Veteran actor Judson Mills works very well with her in the role of Frank Farmer, showing both Frank’s strengths and struggles as the story unfolds in a way that stands on its own and doesn’t try to do more than the give-and-take required for Cox’s Marron.
(Side note: Speaking of walking the door, make sure you are ready when this production starts. That’s all I am saying.)
And the rest of this cast is stellar as well, with standout performances by Jasmin Richardson as Nicki (who also understudies for the role of Rachel), Rachel’s sister and manager, whose vocals are a perfect fit to blend with Cox’s shown in “Run to You,” carrying an emotional power that is arranged perfectly for both of them, as well as a very fun sequence at a karaoke bar where Megan Elyse Fulmer, Dequina Moore, and Naomi C. Walley do their best Rachel-type work.
Add all of this to stellar audio and visual work that frames each and every scene absolutely perfectly to keep the audience focused exactly where the production needs it, to the point of even a couple of catch-you-off-your-guard (no pun intended) moments and it is an absolute shame that “The Bodyguard: The Musical” has as of yet to have its moment on The Great White Way. This is not only a great adaptation of one of the most popular films of the last thirty years, but it is also a wonderful tribute to the career of Whitney Houston as it encompasses music from a number of different points in her career and takes the audience on a journey of emotions that range from excitement to pain to joy and even a few moments of “that song takes me to an exact point in my life”. Whether this is a girls’ night out, a date night, or just a group of people that love a good night at the theatre, take the time out to see “The Bodyguard: The Musical” either here in Dallas or whatever city is closest to you when it comes there!