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If you’re really wishing you could’ve seen a Whitney Houston concert, the next best thing you can get now is seeing The Bodyguard. It’s a dramatic love story, where all-business bodyguard, Frank Farmer (Judson Mills) is assigned to protect bossy popstar Rachel Marron from a stalker, who threatens to kill her at the height of her career. They predictably fall in love, but Rachel’s career and Frank’s job interfere with their relationship.

Modeled after the 1992 movie starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, the musical plot doesn’t completely match the film. It’s honestly more like someone decided to intersperse overly dramatic or dramatically underwhelming scenes between songs made famous by Whitney Houston, than a true Broadway musical, where the music was written to convey the story. It is comparable to Mama Mia, except The Bodyguard is much less dependent on having an impressive array of amazing minor characters and the music doesn’t always completely match what's happening in the plot.

Firstly, a warning: the show starts with a gunshot and the lights all suddenly go out. In a time when random shootings seem to become more frequent, this was very startling. After that initial moment of shock, the show coasts on Deborah Cox’s powerhouse vocals. She really shows off her vocal skill on I Have Nothing and All The Man That I Need. Cox has got the ambitious, controlling diva attitude down, but her moments with her son, Fletcher (Douglas Baldeo), don’t have the same ring of authenticity. Each scene is punctuated with a fun dance number or a power ballad, sung by either Rachel, her sister Nikki (Jasmin Richardson), and far too occasionally, Fletcher. Baldeo is a triple threat: he’s adorable, a great dancer, and can sing well enough to steal the attention away from his character’s mother for a while. 

Judson Mills obviously tried to create a strong and silent version of Frank Farmer, but mostly came across as stiff. His only redeeming moment is his intentionally awful rendition of I Will Always Love You, which Frank performs for Rachel on their first date. The chemistry between Cox and Mills is barely existent. I found myself rooting for Frank to end up with Nikki, rather than Rachel.

The rest of the minor characters don’t make much of an impression, other than one scene where three ridiculously drunk girls sing a karaoke version of Where Do Broken Hearts Go. The ensemble women are incredible dancers and actresses, but aren’t showcased nearly enough. When they do get to show off during dance numbers, the show becomes magical, like theatre theatre is supposed to feel, when everyone on stage and in the audience is feeling the music. The curtain call is the best example of this synergy. The entire cast comes out to stand or dance a safe distance behind superstar Deborah Cox, as she sings I Wanna Dance With Somebody, and even graciously allows Baldeo and Richardson to sing a couple lines. Unfortunately, The Bodyguard feels more like The Deborah Cox Show than a musical, romantic thriller. Don’t get me wrong, Cox is one of the best singers I’ve heard come through the Orpheum, but a musical should not completely hinge on one performer.



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Comment by Dudley Voigt on January 13, 2017 at 2:04pm

Your voice is really strong here, establishing both authority and accessibility, and your review is really balanced. The second half of your piece is the strongest, your descriptions and opinions are much clearer there, your sense of the reader stronger too. What do you think you could do in your opening and plot synopsis to prevent getting wordy and bogged down?  

While I wished you had mentioned something about the technical elements, the look and feel of the show, overall you can certainly abandon the format in favor of a structure that serves your overall argument better.

Great job!

Comment by Grace Peterson on January 29, 2017 at 12:47am

Kate-

I like your plot summary in the opening paragraph, you use vocabulary such as 'predictably' that helps to reveal your opinion. A final sentence stating your opinion would have helped to introduce the reader into what you will speak about in the rest of your review. 

I like that you analyze whether the songs help tell the story. I would have liked to have heard more about that. 

I also appreciate that you bring up the gunshots, but I'm interested in your opinion on whether this, and the use of guns/violence, through affects the storytelling. Does the story justify the fear that it instilled? I think it's important when you bring up something like this that you let the reader know whether or not the rest of the show makes up for it or not. It's not particularly clear here how you feel.

Your last line (" Unfortunately, The Bodyguard feels more like The Deborah Cox Show than a musical, romantic thriller. Don’t get me wrong, Cox is one of the best singers I’ve heard come through the Orpheum, but a musical should not completely hinge on one performer.") is really strong, but feels like the first time you've really revealed your opinion about the show. Maybe a version of this could have been stated in the intro, supported throughout, and then restated at the end? Continue to think about the organization and flow of your reviews! 

Good job!

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