BWW Review: THE BODYGUARD Stands Watch at Broadway San Jose
Bypassing the Great white Way and criss-crossing the States, London's The Bodyguard is standing watch at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. Based on the 1992 film debut of the late Whitney Houston, the production is neither the best nor the worst of film-to-stage-musical transmutations on the circuit. On the hit side, it has all those Houston Top 40 earworms from the soundtrack plus some extras from her catalog. It's also a slick physical production thanks to the understated but highly fluid scenic design by Tim Hatley, who also rendered all the costumes.
On the flip side, as Ava Gardner once joked, "Deep down? I'm real shallow." Most of that can be attributed to the book by Alexander Delinaris, based on Lawrence Kasdan's screenplay which was never intended to be more than a popcorn movie designed to expand a pop diva's career.
That's not so say that the talented cast isn't working hard to breathe some fire into their characters. Deborah Cox, a veteran of better pop musicals like Aida and Jekyll & Hyde, preens, blusters and flirts with aplomb and, most importantly, brings a soaring set of pipes to Rachel Marron's familiar songscape.
Twenty feet from stardom is Jasmin Richardson as Rachel's no-longer-so-duplicitous sister Nikki, whose slightly restrained "Saving All My Love" is perfect for the character. Breaking their hearts - so we can ask where they go - is Judson Mills as Kevin Costner - sorry, as Frank Farmer - whose charms rest somewhere between Nathan Fillion's Castle and a Moonlighting-era Bruce Willis, particularly at the top of Act II.
Charles Gray, Alex Corrado, and Jonathan Hadley respectably dispatch Rachel's management posse, Douglas Baldeo (alternating with Kevelin B. Jones III) is a solid little singer and manages to be endearing without being annoying as her son, and Jorge Paniagua combines handsome and creepy as the reason a bodyguard is even necessary.
Like Jersey Boys for the Fifties and Mamma Mia for the Seventies, The Bodyguard is a slice of musical nostalgia for the Nineties. You can feel the audience shiver with anticipation as Frank and Rachel share their last kiss, knowing that any moment now that song - the one that was once a sweet country tune written by Dolly Parton - will land as the decibel-straining pop aria Grammy-winner they really know and love.
On that level, Cox and The Bodyguard really delivers.
The Bodyguard runs at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts for Broadway San Jose through April 30, 2017.
[ Photos by Joan Marcus ]