“The Bodyguard: The Musical” is one of those shows that if you’re going to do it, you have to do it right or it ends up cheesy and tawdry. But, thankfully for Charlotte audiences, the latest showing at the Belk Theater is done just right.
The show embodied the glitz and glamor of Hollywood from its costuming to its bright, moving set.
Cox plays Academy Award-nominated music superstar Rachel Marron, who discovers she has a stalker that threatens her safety, so her manager hires a bodyguard, Frank Farmer (played by Judson Mills). The starlet had large shoes to fill, as the character the late Whitney Houston played in the 1992 film with Kevin Costner (which produced one of the greatest-selling soundtracks of all time). The entire show is sprinkled with Whitney’s adorned ballads and hits. Cox steps up the challenge.
The show starts off with a bang – literally – as a gun shot goes off, jolting everyone into their seats, giving audiences a little background into Farmer’s past. But the scene is quickly swept away and the stage steps into the limelight, as Marron starts her performance as an acclaimed singer.
Farmer is a highly successful private bodyguard, mostly protecting corporate VIPs and was former Secret Service agent. He reluctantly accepts the offer to guard Rachel, as he sees her as a spoiled diva who is oblivious to the threats against her life. Rachel looks at Farmer as uptight and paranoid.
However, the two eventually develop a relationship, after Farmer saves Marron from a riot, and they ultimately sleep together. Farmer has to deal with drawing the line between whether his professional relationship impedes his ability to protect her.
The plot of the show isn’t all that complex and is pretty predictable. The tension between Rachel and Frank just quickly melts away after she saves her. They appeared to have nonexistent chemistry and then all of a sudden are lovers. The relationship seems forced and random and provides no insight into why Rachel’s coldness toward Frank is suddenly thawed.
I wish she would have had a little more depth and didn’t just seem like she was looking for any warm body to be with her. I’d like to think Rachel Marron has more self-assurance and confidence.
However, the show brings high quality stage presence, with the use of digital projections, high-powered lighting and elaborate sparkle. Rachel’s many costume changes bring as essence of high fashion, as she embodies the glamorous music superstar, reminiscent of Whitney or Mariah Carey.
Jorge Paniagua played an awesome stalker, which is awkward to say, but he was great at being bad. He provided an authentic, creepy vibe throughout his performance that sent chills. Jorge brought the realness I was craving in the plot, which actually amped the whole performance up a notch.
Cox was an unforgettable superstar, belting out 1980s and 1990s Whitney classics, paying an unassuming ode the Prom Queen of Soul’s work and her impact on the music industry.
If you loved the 1992 film or are just a huge Whitney fan, you’re not going to be disappointed.
“The Bodyguard: The Musical” will run through March 12 at Belk Theater. Find more information here.