SCHENECTADY. “The Bodyguard” is a musical-adaptation of the film that starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Though the film was a major success, it was flawed. The stage version does not improve the material.
Indeed, a major problem with the production is its cinematic tone which constantly takes you out of the story. This is especially troublesome in the second act which seems almost chaotic as it moves from locale to locale.
That said, it is likely that few people go to “The Bodyguard” for the story. They go for the music and the familiar score that is filled with show-stopping numbers. Thankfully, the production that continues at Proctors in Schenectady through Sunday has a leading lady who will satisfy those who want to see a concert as much as they do a stage play.
Deborah Cox is simply terrific as Rachel Marron. Indeed, Cox’s performance is almost worth the price of admission as her interpretations of songs like “Greatest Love of All,” “I Have Nothing” and “I Will Always Love You” are highlights of the evening.
What’s less easy to accept is the bloated story about a popular pop star employing a former Secret Service agent to protect her from a dangerous stalker. It is contrived, totally unbelievable, and severely lacking in drama. Making a bad situation worse is that the characterization of the stalker – called assassin in the program – is so one-dimensional it is almost a satire on those slasher films.
Because the creators of this show, which never had a Broadway run, prefer to copy the film rather than adapt it for the stage, the presentation tends to be overly-busy. In an attempt to appear cinematic, the action moves frantically, rarely staying in one locale long enough for the audience to get comfortable. Perhaps the length of time spent at a karaoke club is what makes the closing scene of act one so successful. More likely, it is because it is one of the few moments that is played for fun - which is in stark contrast to the rest of a show that takes itself serious to the point of pretention.
It’s too bad the material gets in the way of some really good performances. As stated, Cox is fantastic and Judson Mills as Frank Farmer is also very good. He plays the strong, silent type of hero who is so dedicated to his job of protecting his clients that he has no life of his own. Mills plays Frank with all the stoicism the role demands, but he also brings a wry sense of humor to the role, which adds a sexy charm to what is essentially a caricature.
Naomi C. Walley is excellent as Nicki, the neglected and overlooked sister of Rachel. Walley finds the conflict in the character who has a crush on Frank, but like everything else in her life, she loses him to her sister. Her rendition of “Saving All my Love” indicates that if given the right break she too could have been a star.
Though the staging is busy to the point of distraction, the technical support is original and important in keeping a plot-heavy show flowing and visually interesting. Too bad it is the only trace of originality in the production.
“The Bodyguard” at Proctors, Schenectady. Performances through Sunday. For tickets and schedule call 518-346-6204 or go to proctors.org
Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.
The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.