Reviewed by Katherine Damisch
The Bodyguard is the musical version of the film of the same name. Both iterations involve fictional singing superstar Rachel Marron, who has been receiving threatening messages from a stalker, and her brand-new bodyguard Frank. This tour stars Grammy nominee Deborah Cox as Rachel, who completely nails the Whitney Houston soundtrack. However, while the role suits her better than her turn as Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde, she still lacks the polish of an actor who has been honing that craft their entire career. Judson Mills as the titular character does not fare much better, although to be fair, his character is more even-keel and subtle by nature. The truest standout actor of this production was Jasmin Richardson, who played Rachel’s sister Nicki. While Cox provided the power-belt singing quality, Richardson’s voice is lighter, which allowed her to add a lot more subtlety in her vocal interpretation, which she executed beautifully.
The main component that excelled was the nervous tension. The show opens with a gunshot - no curtain up, no announcement, no nothing. In subsequent scenes, there are other moments that shock the audience in various ways, but did not overuse one particular tactic. In fact, the edgier scenes reverberated throughout the audience in the form of jumps, anxious chatter, and gasps. Jorge Paniagua was an eerie and strong figure as The Stalker who added much to the build-up of the plot.
Needless to say, stalking and gender-based violence is a heavy subject for any art form to be dealing with, and provides much opportunity for a deep exploration of themes. And yet, this production of The Bodyguard ignores most of that, and prefers to focus instead on cheesy projections and dancing men doing flips. The script itself does not fare much better with its hackneyed, stale dialogue, and one-dimensional, boring characters. All in all, too many rich chances for dimensionality that were lost for this production to have been truly successful.