I just got back from the Paramount Theatre where I watched a production of "The Bodyguard". The touring show is only in town for five days which signals that this wasn't a highly sought after ticket. On top of that, the reviews were horrible for the show and to be honest, it sounded like an awful show. I'm not going to lie -- I sat at my desk earlier today looking at my ticket thinking that maybe I should just stay home tonight. However, what gave me pause was that this was not a Broadway production but a London West End production and the theatre-going crowd on the other side of the pond absolutely LOVED this show. On top of that, the show has gone on to do a number of world tours! Is it possible that maybe us Americans are just missing something?
The show has an incredibly strong lead in Deborah Cox (Rachel) who put on one of the greatest stage singing performances that I've ever seen. Of course, she sort of has to given that this is a jukebox musical that's highly driven by the show's ability to recreate iconic pop songs but that doesn't take away from the fact that she pulls it off brilliantly. In fact, I have a hard time imagining that Whitney sounded better. I do wish that the musical contained at least one male musical number as the only chance they had to get a male singing was wasted on a comical scene where he basically couldn't sing. I get that he's an ex-secret service agent and shouldn't be able to sing, but this is a musical. When the housekeeper breaks into song, they should be singing it like a pro. I also wish that they didn't keep the murder of her sister because for one, it makes the male lead (Frank, "the bodyguard") seem incompetent and also seems to back up that Rachel doesn't care about her sister Nikki as she seems to get over her death way, way too easily.
Anyway, I can tell you right now that it wasn't a good show however....it wasn't bad either. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing it again. I gave it a lot of thought on the drive home and I think that part of the problem is that Whitney Houston was such a huge music star here and her movie "The Bodyguard" was also unbelievably huge. Perhaps being too close to the reference material leaves the American theatre crowd a bit snarky while reducing this show to just a low-brow jukebox musical. If this were a musical based on 80's Irish pop music star Britney McHouston, I think that Americans would have flocked to it and would be inspired to learn more about her and her music rather than rolling their eyes. There are only 13 other cities scheduled for the US tour (i.e. it has barely booked any venues), but if it's in your area, I think you should greatly consider it. In the end, maybe this musical just came around too soon for the American public and we'll find that when a revival is done in 30 years, it'll be a smash hit.