by Michael P Coleman
R & B superstar Deborah Cox told me that she’d prefer fans avoid online clips of the phenomenal new musical, The Bodyguard in order to preserve the theatrical experience. It’s very good advice, as the musical, while based on the 1991 feature film and a screenplay that was written in the 1970s, deviates from the original narrative in a few keys ways.
All of those changes absolutely work. In some ways, this new musical improves upon the original film. Fans of the movie, or of its star, are in for a real treat.
The production gets off to a start right away (make sure you’re in your seat five minutes early) and draws the audience in instantly, telling the story of superstar Rachel Marron, played by Cox, who is presented with a set of circumstance that necessitate the employ of bodyguard Frank Farmer, played by Judson Mills. Intrigue, suspense, drama, and romance ensue, with the backdrop of a dozen or so R & B and pop classics originally performed by the legendary Whitney Houston.
The chemistry between Cox and Mills was palpable from my seat nine rows from the stage. Between key scenes, during which its clear that love is more than on the horizon, one audience member yelled “Alright, Frank!” after which most in the audience laughed or cheered their unwavering support. I preferred Mills’ emotive gift to the more staid Kevin Costner from the original feature film.
Other standouts included Douglas Baldeo, who almost stole the show as Marron’s son Fletcher. Also, Jasmin Richardson as Marron’s sister Nikki is given the opportunity to stretch out vocally beyond the touching “Jesus Loves Me” from the original film. In doing so, Richardson displayed a dramatic and vocal range that made me a tad nervous for Cox. Might the star be upstaged by one of her supporting cast?
As formidable as that challenge was, I needn’t have worried. Cox didn’t just drop the mike: she slammed it triumphantly to the floor with a blistering “All The Man That I Need” and a moving “One Moment In Time,” the latter of which would have earned her an ovation for simply taking on one of Houston’s vocal triumphs. However, when she gave the audience the first few, gloriously unadorned notes of Dolly Parton’s gorgeous “I Will Always Love You,” she earned her riotous ovation along with the audience’s complete adoration.
And prepare yourself for one of the best encores I’ve ever seen.
The Bodyguard will be in Sacramento through April 23. If you’re a fan of the movie, or of its original star, you need to see it. If you’re not, you may be after you see this tremendous production.
Click here for tickets to The Bodyguard in Sacramento.