I COULD WATCH THIS SHOW EVERY NIGHT. IT WAS THE HAPPIEST TIME I'VE HAD IN A LONG TIME IN THE THEATRE.
"The Bodyguard" is Whitney Houston. Period. People loved her so much, that it is almost a miracle to see "Whitney" alive and well and in her prime, thanks to Deborah Cox.
Deborah supplied Whitney's vocals for the Lifetime movie about her life. You could not tell the difference between Deborah and Whitney. Deborah has an interesting challenge as an actress. She is Deborah Cox, playing Whitney, playing Rachel Marron. Think about that. Deborah even has Whitney's speaking voice and speech pattern down pat. Her performance is perfection. And, that is quite an accomplishment. Deborah doesn't really look like Whitney She is of smaller stature and less gangly. But, it's all about the voice, attitude and perception.
At first, in the beginning of Act 1, Deborah's singing voice sounded tired, and I was worried she might be sick. But, as the act continued, her voice got stronger. She totally has the pipes, so I was initially concerned. Singing that hard, eight shows a week, is a killer, and, believe me, Deborah IS the show. Her songs were interrupted by applause throughout.
NOTE: DEBORAH IS NOT DOING SOME MATINEES. CALL THE THEATRE TO MAKE SURE SHE'S IN THE SHOW WHEN YOU BUY YOUR TICKETS.
Familiar material can go either way, and this was a huge success. The production is very cleverly directed by Thea Sharrock, who did the London production. It is full of dazzle and danger.
I did have one problem with it. At the end of the first act, Deborah is "in one" singing "I Have Nothing." The audience is going crazy, and seconds before the end, as the audience is about to rise up and cheer, the moment is shattered by the appearance of her sister, played by Jasmin Richardson, singing a bit of the song at the end. You could actually hear the audience wince at the intrusion. I understand what the director was doing, since she repeated the "intrusion" in the second act as well, but it was a VERY BAD CHOICE.
Speaking of Jasmin Richardson, she's great as Nikki Marron. She's done "Dreamgirls" and "Memphis" on Broadway and in the national tours. Her voice sounds like an even better Dionne Warwick. A Dionne musical for Broadway is in development, and Jasmin should absolutely play her. She even has her carriage on stage.
If you go, look around you. I just might be there again. And again.