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Deborah Cox shines in ‘The Bodyguard’

Deborah Cox, a Grammy-nominee who is no stranger to being center stage, commands the stage in the role of Rachel Marron

Official trailer courtesy YouTube/TheBodyguardMusical

The Bodyguard musical is “…a whirlwind from start to finish”

Hollywood — The highly-anticipated opening of The Bodyguard at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, proved to be well worth the wait.

There was slick costumes, effective lighting, dancing, boundless energy, a familiar story, fantastic music, and more importantly, the star power of Deborah Cox!

Cox, a Grammy-nominee who is no stranger to being center stage, commands the stage in the role of Rachel Marron, a superstar singer being stalked by a mysterious man. The role was made famous by Whitney Houston, who played Marron in the hit 1992 film by the same name. The role and the movie’s soundtrack skyrocketed Houston’s career, especially her rendition of the Dolly Parton hit, “I Will Always Love You,” which became one of Houston’s signature songs.

This touring production takes some artistic license. It adds some songs and scenarios that were not in the movie. It’s okay. There are moments that seem like either a Cox concert of a Whitney Houston concert. Either way, the audience wins.

The show began with a bang, literally and figuratively, and proceeded at warp speed, keeping a receptive audience bopping in our seats, stomping our feet, gasping occasionally, and applauding frequently from start to finish.

Cox wasn’t on stage alone. She seemed as though she were channeling Houston with her confident strides across the stage and her incredibly impressive pipes. This screen-to-stage musical is the perfect vehicle for Cox who has settled into the role and made it her own.

Marron, constantly shadowed by the mysterious stalker, beckons Frank Farmer, a bodyguard hired to protect and her 10-year-old son, Fletcher, played aptly by Kevelin B. Jones, III.

Judson Mills portrays Farmer, a dashing former Secret Service agent, who has a strong and virile presence on stage. He’s all business until he warbles his way through some karaoke on a date with Marron.

The chemistry between Mills and Cox is palpable, evidenced by the female squeals and male whistles of approval from the celebrity-heavy opening night audience every time the two embraced.

A wonderful cast ensemble includes Jasmine Richardson who plays, Nicki, Marron’s sister. Her role, which was limited in the film version, is expanded and helps to move the story forward. In the show, she plays a sister whose vocal chops come close to equaling those of her highly-successful sister.

Unbeknownst to Marron, Nicki has eyes for Farmer. Once she realizes her sister has one-upped her in the romance department, Nicki begins to unravel. She has a secret that is the crux of the show.

Each actor is worth noting, as there is no weak link in the bunch.

Thea Sharrock has put together an entertaining show. There are, however, some moments that obviously don’t work even though, overall, the show is a hit.

Each time the stalker is shown whether on a projection screen or in a spotlight with dramatic music, the audience chuckles. It is a moment that shouldn’t initiate laughs. There is a moment when Farmer’s face is shown, larger than life, on the screen that also elicits chuckles. It, too, is not intended to be comedic.

It makes for an awkward moment. The video-enhanced moments of violence don’t totally hit their mark, but it doesn’t take away from the show. Okay, there are a couple of glitches, but in its totality, this show is a whirlwind from start to finish.

Sans the set for the cabin Marron escapes to with Farmer, the set designs are not impressive. However, the music is the show and it doesn’t disappoint with hits like, “All At Once,” “All The Man That I Need,” “Greatest Love of All,” “How Will I Know,” “I Have Nothing,” “I’m Every Woman,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “Million Dollar Bill,” “One Moment In Time,” “Queen of the Night,” “Run To You,” “Saving All My Love,” “So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?”

Matthew Smedal’s musical direction and Mike Dixon’s vocal arrangements keep the show moving forward.

This is a show you do not want to miss. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable night of theater.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t know), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), OO (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), The Bodyguard gets an E (excellent).

The Bodyguard stars Deborah Cox, Judson Mills, Douglas Baldeo, Kevelin B. Jones III, Alex Corrado, Jarid Faubel, Charles Gray, Jonathan Hadley, Jorge Paniagua, Jasmin Richardson, Brendon Chan, Willie Dee, Megan Elyse Fulmer, Alejandra Matos, Dequina Moore, Bradford Rahmlow, Benjamin Rivera, Sean Rozanski, Matthew Schmidt, Jaquez Andre Sims, Maria Cristina Slye, Nicole Spencer, Lauren Tanner, and Naomi C. Walley.

The Bodyguard, The Pantages, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 8 p.m., Tues-Sat, 2 p.m. Sat., 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sun. through May 21. For information: (323) 468-1770.

Darlene is a veteran publicist and an entertainment and travel journalist whose work has appeared in numerous print and digital entertainment publications. She is also a lecturer on the journalism faculty of California State University, Northridge.


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