The musical catalogue of late singer Whitney Houston -- “I’m Every Woman,” “I Will Always Love You,” “How Will I Know,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and many others -- are part of “The Bodyguard” musical on its U.S. tour.
Adapted from the 1992 film of the same title, “The Bodyguard” stars multi-platinum R&B and pop singer and actress Deborah Cox, who had worked with Houston and looked at her as a mentor.
Cox spoke with The Herald-Sun this week from a tour stop in Charlotte.
“I’d say that the song ‘One Moment in Time’ has been one of my all time favorites,” Cox said of the songs featured in “The Bodyguard” and hearing Houston’s music over the years. “That was one of those songs I remember that was a master class of performance. I remember singing that song over and over again. That was when I was completely entrenched in all things Whitney. I grew up in Toronto when there weren’t black women played on the radio like her,” she said.
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“She became the blueprint of the epitome of what an amazing singer is -- singing well penned classics and then bringing her own soulful style to it,” Cox said. Growing up learning how to sing to that song, and then now performing it herself is coming full circle, she said.
Cox knew that “The Bodyguard” was in development when she was on Broadway in the musical “Aida” years ago.
“I thought that would be really cool -- the music was really incredible and it would be a great way to bring the story to a whole new generation. These things take years and years to develop and I thought I would sit tight and wait for it to happen,” she said. Fast forward eight years, and “The Bodyguard” was in London and planning a U.S. tour, she said. She fell in love with the script and how the characters are more developed and there is a love triangle. “The Bodyguard” is the story of a famous singer who is being stalked and so has a bodyguard, with whom she develops a relationship.
“I got on board and here we are,” Cox said. “It’s been overwhelming, the response. When people see the show, they come to terms with missing Whitney’s music and her, and her presence in the industry.”
To preserve her voice to sing those songs, Cox said it’s about self-discipline.
“Not talking for hours at a time, not singing or talking if I don’t need to. Drinking tons and tons of water. I maintain a healthy lifestyle. I just get rejuvenated when I hit the stage, and become Rachel Marron,” she said.
“For people who love a live concert, who love to see and hear the choreography amid a live performance -- I think people would be really drawn in. We break the fourth wall a lot in the show,” Cox said, and give the audience a front seat into Marron’s world.
“I think people will be shocked to see it’s a thrilling show. It’s not your typical Broadway show,” she said.
Cox said she feels like things happen for a reason, and there was no surprise she was cast for “The Bodyguard.”
“People know my music and my respect, honor and reverence for Whitney and her talent. It’s playing homage to one of my greatest mentors, for me,” she said. When she worked on a duet with Houston in the studio in 2000, they talked about family and work and marriage. It was a time when Cox was considering her future. She now is married with three children, ages 13, 10 and 8.
“The other cast members see me juggling the family time,” Cox said, and by her example are also “inspired to go just for it and have it all as well.”
“For my daughters, the most important thing is for them to understand independence is a good thing and having your own self confidence is going to be such a value to them as they get older so they don’t have to depend on anybody, they can depend on themselves. I hope this will inspire them,” she said.
GO & DO
WHAT: “The Bodyguard”
WHEN: March 14-19
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham