“The Bodyguard” is singer Deborah Cox’s role of a lifetime
SEP 6, 2017 | CINDY LANDRUM
Deborah Cox was a little-known singer from Toronto when the 1992 film “The Bodyguard” was released, but it had a profound impact on the performer that she would one day become.
The story of a pop diva that hires a former Secret Service agent to protect her from an unknown stalker, “The Bodyguard” was not only a big hit, it turned its female lead, Whitney Houston, into a bona fide movie star. The soundtrack also featured Houston’s unforgettable cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”
“The film had a huge influence on me,” Cox says. “I was doing a lot of session work and backing up Celine Dion, working on her own record. I was a Whitney fan, and it was really great to see her acting. It was mesmerizing.
“Those songs were my music lessons,” she adds. “I learned about dynamics, intonation, key. It helped shape the tonality and timbre of my voice.”
Today, Cox is a Grammy Award-nominated multiplatinum R&B and pop singer. She’s also starring in the role that Houston first made famous, Rachel Marron.
Next week, Cox and the rest of the national touring company of “The Bodyguard” musical will begin an eight-show run at the Peace Center. The show is something of a musical revue, featuring songs from throughout Houston’s entire career.
Cox, who is perhaps best known for her 1998 single “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here,” took on the role of Rachel knowing that members of the audience would want to hear the iconic music of Houston in a certain way. That was all well and good, but at the same time Cox had to find her own way of telling the story through the songs.
“I had to strip it down and approach each song from the script,” she said. “I had to try to find that balance of singing it not as a recording artist but in a way that helped tell the storyline to the audience and where it was going. It’s all about storytelling first and foremost.”
For Cox, “The Bodyguard” is ultimately a story about love and sacrifice.
“Rachel is telling us how she feels about being a star. The audience gets a chance to look into her world and what she’s going through. And they find great love for the characters,” she said.
This musical adaptation keeps the film’s basic plot and soundtrack but adds some of Houston’s other hits, including “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
“With the additional songs you get more, I think, of a musical. You hear all the songs in their entirety, as opposed to just snippets like in the movie,” Cox says.
“Performing live you get that exchange and vibe from the audience,” she adds. “It’s where the songs come to life, the story comes to life.”
Peace Concert Hall, 300 S. Main St.
Sept. 11, 12, 13, 14 at 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 15 and 16 at 8 p.m.; Sept. 16 at 2 p.m.; Sept. 17 at 1 p.m.