Remember that feeling you got when you first heard one of your favorite songs or favorite movies? It’s nostalgia at its finest, as some projects are revamped into varying mediums. Add 1992’s breakout romantic thriller The Bodyguard to the list.
The film, which catapulted the late Whitney Houston into super stardom alongside Kevin Costner, is getting rebooted in the most creative way, a musical. And who better to portray the revived Rachel Marron than Canadian songbird Deborah Cox? From London to the United States, The Bodyguard: The Musical is taking stages by storm, one moment in time.
Staying true to it’s movie foundation, but with a modernized twist, Cox and company, including the stoic Judson Mills and superbly talented Jasmin Richardson score big; rehashing Houston’s iconic singles, including “I Will Always Love You,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “Greatest Love of All.” An enjoyable gumbo of lust, suspense, dancing numbers and shimmering fits, the musical shines.
Extremely youthful, poised and classic, Cox is a welcomed sight, especially to 80s babies who first fell in love with her raw, commanding vocals and breakout hit, “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” in the early 1990s.
We caught up with the R&B powerhouse before Chicago’s opening night last week as the singer talked about her role, the craziest thing she’s done for love and advice she’d tell her younger self. – Angela Wilson
The Source: You’re playing Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, reprising Whitney Houston’s infamous role. Is there any pressure?
Deborah Cox: It’s a lot of pressure! *laughs* It’s high expectations on what the show is going to look like. And it’s a brand new musical coming to the U.S, never been seen here before. I know the audience’s expectations are very, very high. Our beloved Whitney is an artist we treasure and we love her legacy of music, so this show really has a lot of that in it. I know and understand the integrity that needs to be kept with the show and the storytelling. Myself and the cast we really try to honor that onstage.
How did you get involved with the production?
I heard about the show six or seven years ago; then they performed it in London then they decided to bring it to the U.S. The producers approached me about being in the show, but I was a little reluctant because I wasn’t sure how it would translate from the movie onto a stage. But once I read through the script and saw there were so many moments that was close to the movie but still kept the story going with other characters, [I saw] it was developed a lot more.
I enjoyed it and discussed it with my family because I knew touring was going to be tough on us all, but we managed to work it out!
What were some of the challenges?
Biggest challenge is that it’s a big show, a really big show. I sing 13 songs and there’s a lot of dancing and a lot of singing on top of that with intense scenes. It’s a suspense, it’s a thriller, it’s a love story, it’s very engaging so you just have to be on it. It’s like a whirlwind of sorts and I’m telling this story and there’s a lot of moving parts. It’s probably the biggest role I’ve taken on.
And we’re bringing it a completely new audience, a whole new generation of people who may not know the music so this is an opportunity to bring it to them.
What would Deborah tell her 21 year old self?
[I’d tell her] to try to stay in the moment and have fun. When I was younger I was so self conscious, so uncomfortable with being myself that I didn’t know how to act. There was always this angst in my stomach. Now I feel like I’m in my own skin, I know what I’m doing and I don’t sweat it as much. I’m doing what I love to do; I love singing.
Take me back to 1998, “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here.” How did that song come about?
Originally it was written for Patti LaBelle. When Patti turned the song down the label played it for me and I fell in love with it. I felt like it spoke to me, it spoke to my life because I fell in love the same way. I loved that it was a gospel tinged song that said exactly what I wanted to say at the time.
It just moved me, that’s why I chose to sing the song and little did we know we would break the record and stay for 14 weeks at number one!
So you had no idea the song would blow up like it did?
Heck no! No idea. I go with what moves and inspires me and that song did that. It was a pleasant surprise; for 14 weeks we just kept checking Billboard like, “OMG, it’s number 1 again, it’s number 1 again, it’s number 1 again!” That feeling never goes away.
Why has music changed so much since the 90s and 2000s, specifically R&B?
It’s funny because “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” broke in Chicago. WGCI-FM was the first station to play it and they were the first believers and the difference now is that you don’t have that many jocks to discover music and talk about it on air.
It’s very different; people are discovering their own music now, on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, they’re so many different playlists and outlets online where you can find music on your own. It’s a huge shift from the 90s. But you have to stay progressive.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?
The craziest thing I’ve done for love was coloring my hair. I got my hair highlighted when I shouldn’t have and it burned it-
For a guy?
Yes, for a guy, I got highlights. And I went to a hair dresser who didn’t know what they were doing and I had my hair relaxed and you can’t put color on top of it and I left with a short haircut because it just damaged my hair badly. So I’ll never do that again! *laughs*
So what happened to that guy?
I didn’t marry him so! *laughs* He wasn’t worth it anyway obviously. He liked it, but it didn’t go so well.
Besides the musical, anything else you got coming up?
There will be a new EP coming out with eight songs, probably the most requested songs from the musical because everyone has asked will I do a soundtrack or a cast album, so this is the opportunity for people to hear me on the songs. It’ll be available towards the end of February.
The Bodyguard: The Musical sings it’s way to your heart in a city near you! From it’s current stint in Chicago until February 12, to Columbus, Ohio to many others, get your tickets here!