THE BODYGUARD, played at San Jose’s Center for Performing Arts last week (April 25-30, 2017)and started out with a shocking bang (literally, brace yourself), ends with a dance party but has little substance in between.
If you had a pulse in 1992, like me, you were probably wearing out ‘The Bodyguard’ soundtrack on your Sony Walkman. To date it is the best-selling soundtrack of all time. I have never seen the movie in its entirety. I have tried, but it’s pretty bad and I suspect its massive success was due in large part to Whitney Houston’s popularity. The movie may have been bad, but the soundtrack…the soundtrack was the playlist to my life for at least a solid year.
THE BODYGUARD musical is much the same as the movie. Your enjoyment of the show is going to depend on how much you love the music of Whitney Houston.
THE BODYGUARD is billed as a romantic thriller about a famous pop star, Rachel Marron (Grammy award winning Deborah Cox) at the height of stardom who is being haunted by a stalker (an incredibly creepy Jorge Paniagua). At the insistence of her staff, Rachel hires a bodyguard (Frank Farmer played by Judson Mills) to protect her. Neither Frank nor Rachel are excited about the arrangement, but over the course of time, their feelings about one another change and romance blossoms.
The plot of THE BODYGUARD is weak and often muddled. There is a very heavy handed creepiness factor with the Stalker (who interestingly is incredibly nice and personable off stage). There is an alleged romance between Rachel and Frank, although you never feel any real chemistry between the two. Then there is a sub plot with Rachel’s sister Nicki (Jasmin Richardson), the ever devoted supporter who is also in love with Frank. Again, I do not think the plot to the movie was particularly deep, so my expectations coming into this performance were not very high.
I came for the music and where the show lacks plot substance, it makes up for it in musical numbers. THE BODYGUARD is ultimately a celebration of Whitney Houston’s music. Deborah Cox, an award winning artist in her own right is not quite Whitney, but manages to hold her own trying to fill the shoes of a legend. In addition to the soundtrack standards, THE BODYGUARD fills the voids with some of Whitney Houston’s most iconic hits such as “Greatest Love of All”, “How Will I Know”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, “So Emotional” and many more.
Jasmin Richardson (Nicki) deserves much of the credit for honoring the music of Whitney Houston in the show. While not the star, her vocal talents and charisma made her shine in every scene she was in. Her rendition of “Saving All My Love” was particularly inspired.
This may not have been the strongest show in the 2016-2017 season for Broadway San Jose, but a night at the theater is always a good night. If nothing else, the memories of Whitney and a few signature Queen of the Nile cocktails helped make the night fun.
Don’t miss out on the upcoming shows at Broadway San Jose by visiting, www.broadwaysanjose.com