When I entered the Orpheum Theater for the opening night performance of The Bodyguard, I was expecting nothing more than a corny musical filled with Whitney Houston songs and 80’s rom-com clichés. However, although some parts of the plot definitely delivered on the expected cheesiness, I was pleasantly surprised by the show’s elaborate dance numbers and overall fun and fast-paced energy. It wasn’t a perfect show, but it had a lot of strong redeeming qualities and seemed to put the audience in a good mood, which is a great thing for any musical to strive for.
In my opinion, one of the greatest highlights from the show was Deborah Cox’s performance as popstar Rachel Marron, the role originally played by Whitney Houston in the 1992 movie. Her confidence and attitude kept the audience hanging onto her every word from beginning to end and her voice had an incredibly full and jazzy sound that was suited perfectly to Whitney’s music. It was obvious that she was putting her heart and soul into the performance and I was entranced by every song she sang. Unfortunately, as I said before, the show did have some problematic elements, one of the biggest ones being its usage of guns. In this modern era, mass shootings and gun violence are very real and very terrifying phenomena, so beginning the show with the sound of a loud, unexpected gunshot seemed to be a very poor choice in my mind. I feel as though opening directly into the opening number — Deborah Cox singing “Queen of the Night” accompanied by a flashy dance number and light show — would have been just as effective and much less frightening for the audience. The scene in which Rachel Marron’s psychotic, murderous stalker pointed a gun directly into the audience was equally as startling and could’ve been replaced by a number of things that could’ve portrayed his intentions to harm her without making the audience so uncomfortable.
As far as the technical elements go, The Bodyguard was definitely on the simpler side, but the simplicity seemed to work well for a show that’s more focused on its music. I especially liked the use of moving panels on either side of the stage because it helped to separate the scenes into different areas and focus in on especially important moments. The costumes were also very flashy and fun to look at, most notably the glittery black dress that Rachel wore to sing “I Will Always Love You.” One small detail that I would’ve removed from the show was the projections that were occasionally used to highlight some of the stalker’s actions; they seemed a bit too cheesy and distracted from the show’s plot rather than adding to it.
Overall, The Bodyguard was an incredibly energetic and fun show filled with some suspense, some comedy, and a whole lot of wonderful music. If you’re a sucker for musicals with songs that stay in your head for the next 24 hours, this one is definitely a must-see.