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BWW Review: BODYGUARD THE MUSICAL Blows the Roof Off Candlelight Pavilion

BWW Review: BODYGUARD THE MUSICAL Blows the Roof Off Candlelight Pavilion

The Bodyguard The Musical/based on the film with screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan/book by Alexander Dinelarissir/music: the hit songs of Whitney Houston/directed by John LaLonde/choreography by John Vaughan/musical director: Kevin Casio/Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, Claremont/through September 28

As much as I admired Whitney Houston's phenomenal vocal instrument, I did not much care for 1992's movie of The Bodyguard. Apart from the music, I found it relatively boring. Houston's role Rachel Marron received lesser focus than that of her bodyguard played by Kevin Costner, and maybe screenwriter Kasdan didn't feel that Houston, in her first film, could cut the acting. Now onstage in a revamped version, The Bodyguard The Musical took my breath away from moment to moment. The focus here is on Rachel Marron (Daebreon Poiema) and her sister Nicki (Deanna Anthony) who sing the hell out of the Houston score. Brent Schindele as Frank Farmer, the Bodyguard, dynamically completes the leading trio.

Rachel Marron, a singing superstar, is strong-willed, obstinate and determined to have her own way. She and Nicki, who is trying to make it as a singer in out of the way dives, do not really get on as sisters. Nicki is lonely, wanting some of the spotlight that Rachel already has. They both contributed to a score nominated for an Academy Award, but it is Rachel that gets all the attention. When the play begins Rachel is being threatened by a calculating stalker and Farmer is hired to protect her and catch the assailant. She initially wants no part of Frank, but gradually accepts that he is trying to save her and her son Fletcher (Amari Figueras) from untimely death...and as time goes on, as she begins to trust him, she falls deeply in love. He beds her, but keeps a professional profile and, despite his love for her, is hard bent on not making her his life partner. In the meantime, Nicki also becomes very attracted to Frank, creating somewhat of a triangle and further complicating her relationship with Rachel.

Within a short time, the attacks on the family grow worse and someone gets killed. I will not spoil the storyline by giving away any more details. You must see the show for yourselves.

The singing, acting and dancing in The Bodyguard are amazing. Under John LaLonde's superlative direction and with John Vaughan's super fast and fiery choreographic steps, the entire 18 member cast give brilliant triple threat performances. As mentioned earlier Poiema and Anthony both possess powerhouse musical voices and do more than justice to the memorable score. Their acting scenes separate and together are intense and...electric. Schindele, ususally in fine form as a singer, gets to do only one song in this show, so it is his acting that is on display. He gives a wonderfully strong and unforgettable performance. In the role of the Stalker Chris Coon is totally creepy and scary, essaying standout work.

Set design by Chuck Ketter, projections coordinated by Aaron Hancock, lighting design by Bo Tindell and costumes by Mark Gamez and Merrill Grady are all sensational and create a flashy and eerie atmosphere throughout.

If for no other readon, go see this show to hear "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" among a dozen or so more of the Houston hits.

This show is by far one of Candlight's best and every seat in the house should be filled throughout its short run. And stay tuned for the next show Newsies, another great dancing show, that will open October 11.

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Act One at Candlelight is the dinner which we all look forward to. Everything is deliciously fresh, the Bollinger cut of the tri tip roast is still splendid and the desserts are by far the best anywhere. Special drinks are only $6. I ordered "The Bodyguard", a real fruity delight. The service from the staff of waiters is impeccable, consistently fast, efficient and friendly.

A shoutout as well to guitarist Michael Ryan, who plays for about 30 minutes prior to the show. It's an extra special treat during dinner to listen to this fabulous man play everything from "Falling" to "Malaguena".

(photo credit: Demetrios Katsantonis)

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