A ‘jukebox’ musical? A tribute to Whitney Houston? A concert? A stage adaptation of a best selling movie which contained one of the best selling soundtracks of all time? With Deborah Cox in the “The Bodyguard”, presented at the Adrienne Arsht Center of the Performing Arts, it is all of those and a real crowd pleaser is shown by the response of the audience last night.
From her opening number Deborah Cox, as Rachel Marron, takes command of the stage and the audience with her statuesque looks and though sounding like Houston makes all the song hits her own. In the singing she gets some competition from Jasmin Richardson, who plays her sister, and when singing “Saving All My Love For You” makes you want to her at Saturday matinees when she takes over the role of Rachel Marron.
The show follows the movie closely with the love story between Rachel and Frank Farmer, played by Judson Mills, who is hired to guard Rachel after she had received threatening notes. Of course, originating in Hollywood, with a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan with the stage book by Alexander Dinelaris, you know Rachel doesn’t like Frank and the main reason Frank takes the job is that of her 10-year-old son Fletcher, played by Kevelin B. Jones III who is quite the dancing and singing trouper. Offhand I can’t think of another leading man in a stage musical that doesn’t sing or dance but Judson Mills makes his role believable in an underwritten role.
The ensemble of 10 men and women give a lot of support to the stars and the supporting players with the men, especially, doing a lot of athletic dancing and the women singing up a song when needed.
The sets and costume designs by Tim Hatley along with the choreography by Karen Bruce and the direction of Thea Sharrock keep the production moving and looking sharp. The lighting designer, Mark Henderson, goes a little overboard with the strobe lights but gives depth to the moving sets.
The musical hits are there from “All At Once”, “I Have Nothing”, “I Will Always Love You” (including a funny karaoke rendition by Mills), “One Moment In Time” to “Run To You”, “Queen Of The Night”, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” among the 16 numbers including the cast’s curtain call of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” which gets the audience up on their feet and clapping!
No one leaves “The Bodyguard” disappointed but you can feel the energy and hear bits and pieces being sung by the audience as they leave the theatre!
“The Bodyguard” has a running time of 2 hours and 15 minutes including a 20-minute intermission.