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Viva La Diva

Recreating Whitney Houston’s cinematic debut role, Deborah Cox shows off her vocal range, belting out energetic and emotive musical numbers in The Bodyguard.

Article
Lindsay Morris
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
August 29, 2017

Who doesn’t love Whitney Houston? Her death in 2012 shocked fans everywhere, but her music lives on. If you love Houston’s music and watching stories filled with action and romance, you will really enjoy the musical The Bodyguard.

Based on the 1992 smash hit film starring Kevin Costner and Houston, The Bodyguard features award-winning musical star, Grammy Award-nominee, and R&B star Deborah Cox. The musical tells the story of former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard Frank Farmer, who is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be the boss, but they end up falling in love in the process.

The Bodyguard features a host of irresistible classics, including “Queen of the Night,” “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Saving All My Love,” “Run to You,” “I Have Nothing,” “I’m Every Woman” and one of the best-selling songs of all time, “I Will Always Love You.”

Playing the role of Frank Farmer is Walker, Texas Ranger television star Judson Mills. Rounding out the principal cast are Alex Corrado (Gotham, Hannibal) as Tony Scibelli, Rachel’s personal security guard, Jarid Faubel (Black & White, X-Men: First Class) as FBI agent Ray Court, Charles Gray (Broadway production of The Color Purple) as manager Bill Devaney, Jonathan Hadley (Broadway production of Jersey Boys, A Class Act) as publicist Sy Spector, and Jasmin Richardson (Touring production of Memphis, Dreamgirls) as Rachel’s sister Nicki Marron.

Hadley says the highlight of the show is Cox’s incredible performance. “Deborah sings 13 Whitney songs back-to-back. It’s an extraordinary feat for a human being,” Hadley says. “I think I can speak for all of us [actors] that we just stand in the wings during the last song — “I Will always Love You” — in awe.”

The Bodyguard features a host of irresistible classics, including “Queen of the Night,” “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Saving All My Love,” “Run to You,” “I Have Nothing,” “I’m Every Woman” and one of the best-selling songs of all time, “I Will Always Love You.”
The Bodyguard features a host of irresistible classics, including “Queen of the Night,” “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Saving All My Love,” “Run to You,” “I Have Nothing,” “I’m Every Woman” and one of the best-selling songs of all time, “I Will Always Love You.”

Cox’s 1998 song “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” held the record for longest-running No. 1 single on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart (14 weeks), a record held for nearly eight years. She has achieved 12 No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart. She is often cited as Canada’s top R&B artist.

Cox also has been involved in a number of movies and soundtracks. In 2000, she played Niko Rosen in Love Come Down. In 2001, her hit song “Absolutely Not” was featured in Dr. Dolittle 2. In 2005, in the movie Blood of a Champion, she played the role of Sharon, and again in 2005, her voice was featured in the movie Hotel Rwanda in the song “Nobody Cares.”

The audience should also keep an eye on Richardson. She typically also plays the role of Rachel during the two matinee shows in each city. “She’s extraordinary in both parts,” Hadley says.

The musical had its world premiere in 2012 at London’s Adelphi Theatre. The Bodyguard was nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical and Best Set Design and won Best New Musical at the Whatsonstage Awards. The United Kingdom production of the musical recently completed a sellout 16-month UK and Ireland tour and made its triumphant return to London’s West End at the Dominion Theatre in 2016.

Audience members can come to The Bodyguard expecting part concert, part theater performance, Hadley says. “Audiences love it — they go crazy. People are on their feet dancing for the entire finale.

“You can’t help but sing along to this music. People say it’s one of the favorite shows they’ve seen, and that’s really exciting. It’s a big, Broadway-style production show. The set, lights and costumes are extraordinary. We have an amazing ensemble of dancers; there’s not an ounce of body fat on the entire stage. It’s like watching a Beyoncé or Katy Perry concert.”

Audiences often comment on how closely The Bodyguard sticks to the plot of the movie. “It’s pretty close to the movie,” Hadley says. “They’ve streamlined the movie a bit. People will point out a few differences here and there.”

Hadley says Cox carries all the weight of the singing in the show, but the rest of the cast members get some good lines and jokes.

Hadley appeared on Broadway as Bob Crewe in Jersey Boys, a role he played for more than 2,000 performances on both the national and international tours. “I followed that show for seven years,” he says. “When the stock market crashed in 2008, I thought, ‘It’s nice to have a job.’”

Audience members should stick around after The Bodyguard curtain call because there’s a surprise at the end, Hadley says.

The producers recommend the production for ages 13 and up. The Bodyguard contains some adult language, mature situations, gun shots and brief simulated violence.

LOCATOR
The Bodyguard
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St. | Tulsa
918-596-7111
tulsapac.com
Sept. 26-28: 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 29: 8 p.m.
Sept. 30: 2 p.m., 8 p.m.
Oct. 1: 2 p.m., 7 p.m.