BWW Review: Deborah Cox is Queen of the Night in THE BODYGUARD
Explosive and suspenseful, The Bodyguard, the musical, offers a modern take on the 1992 silver screen classic starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. The stage version, touring across America but stopping in Pittsburgh this week, stars Canadian R&B artist Deborah Cox and features thrilling theatrics that accompany the melodrama.
Similar to the movie, The Bodyguard centers on Rachel Marron (Deborah Cox), an Oscar-nominated music sensation. All is going well in her career until she begins receiving death threats in strange letters, and Frank Farmer (Judson Mills) is called in to investigate and be Rachel's bodyguard.
Their relationship, though rocky at first, grows into a beacon of hope towards the end of the show, as the threats become more serious and the action overtakes the stage. Even Rachel's sister, Nicki Marron (Jasmin Richardson), can't help but acknowledge their relationship maturing, much to her dismay.
Still, the show's plot powers through a short first act as the tensions and safety of Rachel become paramount and reach their pinnacle near the end of the show. This show, of course, would not be complete without one of the most famous soundtracks in movie history, sung quite stunningly by Ms. Cox.
Hits like "I'm Every Woman," I Wanna Dance with Somebody," and "I Will Always Love You" are sung with rasp and soul by Ms. Cox, paying homage to the late Whitney Houston. Ms. Richardson matches her renditions with the so emotional "All at Once" and "Saving All My Love." Even a sharp or flat note here or there is downed out by the passion these two summon when they belt on stage.
As the audience watches the show, they are transported through one concert to another, occasionally stopping at Rachel's house or Frank's cabin; but for the most part, the show offers mini concerts for the audience, complete with flashy lights, dazzling costumes, and elaborate sets.
At times, the lights can be blinding as the dark theatre is suddenly illuminated with strobe lighting pointed at the audience, but once your eyes get adjusted, you can appreciate the sequin costumes and incredibly fit dancers. This show also featured a stellar use of panels as the curtains on the left, right, and top of the stage. These panels easily cover all of the stage or part of the stage, which allows for quick scene changes.
The musical is like the movie in many ways. It has the ability to keep a theatergoer's attention because unlike most light-hearted musicals, this show builds in a level of suspense and palpable danger from the stalker. Never before have I seen a character be booed so much at curtain, but when he delivers death threats to the delight that is Ms. Cox, what else can Jorge Paniagua expect?
Altogether, the show offers some weaker acting moments and very cheesy overacting, but when you come to see The Bodyguard, you're really coming for the concert experience. This is a show that delivers on that and doubles down on its metatheatrical elements, as a show compiled of handclapping hits.
To see or not to see score: 6/9; Moderately Recommended Show
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus