BWW Review: Deborah Cox Lights Up the Stage with Star Power in THE BODYGUARD

Grammy® Award-nominated and multi-platinum R&B/pop recording artist and film/TV actress Deborah Cox is starring as Rachel Marron in the first U.S. National tour of the hit musical THE BODYGUARD during its Los Angeles premiere at Hollywood Pantages Theatre through May 21, 2017. Ms. Cox is not only one of the most incredible singers I have ever seen onstage, her renditions of the many hit songs performed by Whitney Houston in Lawrence Kasdan's 1992 Oscar nominatEd Warner Bros. film, sound even better than the originals! In fact, in 2000, Cox collaborated with Houston to record the duet "Same Script Different Cast" for Houston's Greatest Hits CD, setting the precedent culminating with this production. Cox literally lights up the stage with her star-power presence, making it easy to understand her personal success as an entertainer as well as Rachel Marron's, the character she portrays. Every time she takes the stage to perform in the many big ensemble production numbers, get ready to be amazed and dazzled not only by her talent but also by the entire ensemble, the incredible moving set and sexy costumes designed by Tim Hatley, "blinded-by-the-light" design by Mark Henderson, with Musical Director Matthew Smedal leading an orchestra of both tour and local musicians that rock the house, conducted by Brian Miller. Director Thea Sharrock is to be commended for assembling such a talented cast and technical crew who work so well together, I can honestly say this production has proven to be one of my favorite new musicals! For those who are not familiar with the story, after receiving many strange and threatening "fan" letters, Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer (Judson Mills), is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Marron's personal entourage is led by her personal security guard Tony Scibelli (Alex Corrado) who has the size but not the skill to protect the star from the military-trained stalker (Jorge Paniagua), whose every entrance will cause you to jump out of your seat thanks to sound design by Richard Brooker.

Standouts include Jasmin Richardson as Rachel's uber-talented sister Nikki who matches Cox note-for-note, and Kevelin B. Jones III (sharing the role with Douglas Baldeo) as Rachel's son Fletcher, a skilled young singer and dancer in his own right, generating tons of applause after each of his numbers. Rounding out the principal cast are Jarid Faubel as FBI agent Ray Court, Charles Gray as Rachel's manager Bill Devaney, and Jonathan Hadley as Rachel's publicist Sy Spector.

Both Rachel and Frank expect to be in charge; what they don't expect is to fall in love which of course is the basis of this romantic thriller of a musical, featuring a host of irresistible classics including "So Emotional", " One Moment in Time," "Saving All My Love," "Run to You," "I Have Nothing," "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" (which is also performed as an after-curtain call encore that had the audience on its feet dancing and singing along), and one of the biggest selling songs of all time - "I Will Always Love You" during which Cox masters every demanding note.

Her highly skilled supporting ensemble includes BrenDon Chan, Willie Dee, Megan Elyse Fulmer, Alejandra Matos, Dequina Moore, Bradford Rahmlow, Benjamin Rivera, Sean Rozanski, Matthew Schmidt, Jaquez André Sims, Maria Cristina Slye, Nicole Spencer, Lauren Tanner, and Naomi C. Walley, with each number highlighted by video design by Duncan McLean, Choreography by Karen Bruce, and wonderful orchestrations by Chris Egan with musical supervision by Richard Beadle and production musical supervision by Mike Dixon. The big team effort is to be saluted for their impeccable, attention-grabbing staging.

The U.S. National tour of THE BODYGUARD is produced by Michael Harrison, David Ian and Nederlander Presentations, Inc. The performance schedule is Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm. Opening Night is Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 8pm. Please note: Deborah Cox is not scheduled to perform at the matinee performances.

Individual tickets for THE BODYGUARD start at $35 and are available for purchase at or, by phone at 800-982-2787, and at the Hollywood Pantages Box Office (6233 Hollywood Boulevard), which opens daily at 10am except for holidays. The production is recommended for ages 13 and up. (Children under 5 will not be admitted to the theatre. All patrons must have a ticket, regardless of age.)

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For tickets or more information about the Los Angeles engagement of THE BODYGUARD, please visit the official website for Hollywood Pantages Theatre:

All photos by Joan Marcus

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From This Author Shari Barrett