Based on the 1992 Warner Brothers film, The Bodyguard is . . . let’s see . . . over the top? It’s melodramatic plot weakens its platform in reality, and the poorly developed characters have the logic of distressed teenagers in a low budget horror movie. Despite all this, there’s a reason it has gained publicity and adoration from audiences since its debut in 2012 at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End: the music. The film, featuring Whitney Houston, has a lot to live up to, and my ears were not disappointed by what they heard.
Deborah Cox plays Rachel Marron with unwavering suave. Her voice flickers as soft as a flame and then fills the room with its explosive passion. Of equal talent is Jasmine Richardson, or Nicki Marron in the musical. The two sisters are competitive within the show’s plot, but listening to Richardson’s voice, you wonder how her character could ever be overlooked. Her voice sounds like melting chocolate. Although there’s not much I can say about her acting abilities with that poorly written character. A notable character is the assassin that Rachel Marron needs protection from in the first place, played by Bradford Rahmlow. He selom speaks, yet his creepiness is all I could sense! The lurking leopard energy changes the entire mood of the stage’s components. What I’ve learned from Judson Mills, Frank Farmer within the show, is that you don’t have to be a good singer to make it as an actor, s’long as you spin your inabilities into a bit.
The vocal arrangements, assembled by Mike Dixon, are breathtaking. The nature of a musical is spontaneous song, but the numbers are embedded realistically into the show as they would appear in real life. The music placement is really the only plausible aspect. There are many instances when it feels like you’re at a concert, especially at the end. The actors sang onstage after curtain call and engaged audience members. Half the fun of a concert is the artist to consumer interaction. Unfortunately, at the beginning especially, I felt like my eardrums were rattling in my head from the vibrations of the sound system. The set, designed by Tim Hatley, appears simplistic upon arrival, but has many literal layers. Made up of rectangular blocks, this wall shifts throughout the show, parting to reveal an inner layer to the setting, or framing a small square of stage to frame scenes picturesquely. The costumes, also designed by Tim Hatley, excite me! Especially a stunning dress that appears at the very end. With the Oscars not too far from us, this dress dazzled and filled me with glee.
Something I must warn you of - sorry for the spoiler, unless you want to go into cardiac arrest - is that a bang and a funnel of smoke are what beckon audience attention to the beginning of the show. I found this start rather inappropriate considering the political climate we’re in. For the longest second of my life, I thought it was more than just a tech device for the show, but rather a real weapon. That did not prompt me to welcome the show with warm arms. My displeasure dissipated as I lost myself in the music. I felt engaged, especially with the hits that appear in the soundtrack.