Entertainment » Theatre

The Bodyguard

by Will Demers
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Jan 11, 2018
Deborah Cox in "The Bodyguard."
Deborah Cox in "The Bodyguard."  

On screen "The Bodyguard" was a romantic thriller created for two 1970s stars but reworked in 1992 as a vehicle for superstar Whitney Houston. American producer/director/writer Lawrence Kasdan ("Body Heat," "The Accidental Tourist") wanted this script to feature Diana Ross in the title role, but as time went on, Houston was at her peak of popularity in the early 1990s, and she got the role. Today it gets the musical theater treatment, with mixed results.

"The Bodyguard" stars pop superstar Deborah Cox (whose theater work includes "Aida" and "Jekyll & Hyde") who takes up the reigns as Rachel Marron, the fictional R&B and Pop diva played by Whitney in the film. Following the film's premise, though updated to present day, Marron is being sent threatening letters at her home and during performances. Former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer (Judson Mills, from TV's "Walker," "Texas Ranger" and HBO's "Westworld") is hired against Rachel's wishes, as she sees the threats as a joke and Farmer's presence a nuisance.

Rachel has a young son Fletcher (Kevelin B. Jones III) and sister Nicki (Jasmin Richardson) living with her. When her son's room is invaded by our "Stalker" (Jorge Paniagua), she realizes the danger to herself and family might be real. After Frank takes her to a karaoke bar, they finally get to know each other and hit it off. When Nicky finds the two in bed later the next morning, she becomes visibly jealous.
Fletcher takes to Frank in the absence of his own father (which isn't explained here at all) and cements the relationship between Rachel and her protector.

The melodrama begins when Frank slips up and isn't able to protect Rachel properly, and breaks off the affair. The stalker gets more and more ballsy, and we see his actions off stage, and on. As with the film, the action is pretty much standard fare, with plot holes abound. But it is when Cox takes the stage to perform those well-known songs that this show truly pops. Woven into the story are the classic songs, and when Deborah is performing, she commands the stage. Equally talented a singer is Richardson, who plays the sister and also performs some songs though some of them seem curiously out of place.

Arriving in Providence on the tour's one-year anniversary, this cast has got everything down, and the production is slick. The production numbers are eye-catching and colorful, especially when our heroine is supposedly performing live at a concert or the "Academy Awards" where she's all gowns and glitz, and channels Houston to the delight of the audience. As Farmer Mills is solid as the bodyguard and he looks the part, to be sure. Jones as the child is a fantastic singer, as well, and our stalker Paniagua is a muscle-bound hottie who brings the creepiness to a new level in some scenes.

The film was a mixed bag of melodrama and spots of light comedy and great fun performances, and the show mirrors this, Cox is center stage, much like her diva character. The dialogue isn't going win any awards, but this show is about the melodrama, and those fabulous Whitney Houston classics, and when we hear them, you can't help but clap, sing along, or want to dance with somebody.

"The Bodyguard" is running through January 14th at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) 220 Weybosset Street, Providence, RI 02909. For information or tickets, call 401-421-2997 or visit www.ppacri.org.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook