By Chris Heide
Whitney Houston is an iconic singer with a nearly untouchable vocal talent. For any performer, tackling her diverse catalog of songs is a formidable challenge- a task that can cause even the most grandiose singer to fall short. Typically, performances of Houston’s songs are reserved for revered singers, such as Christina Aguilera, who will be performing a medley in honor of the 25th anniversary of The Bodyguard at the American Music Awards. Houston’s vocals are often indistinguishable from perfection. It’s almost impossible to separate her stunning vocals from those songs. To create an entire musical around Houston’s biggest hits is an ambitious and fearless task
Although The Bodyguard musical is spot on homage to the 1992 film of the same name, at its heart, the show is really a tribute to the icon of Whitney Houston. The musical itself features every song featured in the film, including “Queen of the Night”, “Run to You”, and “I Have Nothing”. In addition, the show adds several of Houston’s other biggest hits including “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, “One Moment In Time”, and “Million Dollar Bill”. The show is more than a recreation of the movie- it’s a touching memorial to Houston herself.
Deborah Cox takes on the character of Rachel Marron (Houston’s character from the film) with an intoxicating energy. The Grammy Award nominated Cox is a vocal powerhouse in her own right, having collaborated with Houston in 2000. It’s a huge task for Cox to sing both “I Have Nothing” and “I Will Always Love You”, arguably two of Houston’s most iconic hits. The vocally challenging songs would likely be butchered in less capable hands; instead, Cox absolutely dominates both songs. At the conclusion of “I Will Always Love You”, Cox received a standing ovation for her chilling, powerhouse performance. Her performance of this song comes close to Houston’s rendition and will undoubtedly give you chills.
The overall show is quite well produced. The choreography is tight and the set designs are impeccable. Early on, the show seems to take a moment to find its tone, relying a bit too heavily on musical performances to propel the plot forward. By the middle of the first act however, The Bodyguard seems to find its rhythm, blending huge musical numbers and unexpected humor quite seamlessly.
The supporting cast rounds out the show quite well. Judson Mills (Frank) and Jasmin Richardson (Nikki Marron) both give scene stealing performances throughout the show.
Even with Houston’s presence felt throughout the show- something that is impossible to ignore- The Bodyguard is a very well-crafted musical on its own accord and well worth a second viewing.