Deborah Cox Stars in 'The Bodyguard'
Since its premiere as a stage musical in 2012 on London's West End, "The Bodyguard" has taken flight all over the world. The musical has a book written by Alexander Dinelaris and is based on 1992's film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.
The show has been presented in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Korea and Spain. "I Will Always Love You" is quite right for this U.S. National tour, with Deborah Cox now shining as the iconic character of Rachel Marron. But no bodyguard is necessary in order to enjoy her journey through Southern California, with productions in Los Angeles, Costa Mesa and San Diego.
Before diving into the discussion of Cox's starring role as Rachel Marron in "The Bodyguard," there was a compliment in order for her remarkable and so emotional rendition of "This Nearly Was Mine" from "Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers," which just released in April. Deborah graciously responded, "Oh, thank you so much, that's one of my favorite sessions. Billy and I had been talking for years about working with each other. Finally, when he told me about this project, I was like 'When you're ready to go, let me know... I'm down.'
We literally got into the studio while I was doing 'The Bodyguard' in New York at The Paper Mill Playhouse. I went in on a day off and we knocked the session out. He's so incredibly talented and it was just great to work with him and be a part of it. He's really amazing."
With a singing and acting career that goes back to 1995, Deborah Cox was initially signed by Clive Davis at Arista Records. It was there that she scored her first major hit "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here." As fate would have it, this led to a teaming of two powerhouse vocalists for the song, "Same Script, Different Cast" with the one-and-only Whitney Houston. Cox shares some precious memories and the solid advice she received from Whitney during their time spent together.
Before she replied, I mentioned the lyric "Uncover your ears, girl..."
Laughing, Deborah said, "Wow...Well, for me in the studio; it was toe to toe with Whitney and being there in the room with her. I don't know if there's a word to describe it. Magical. It was a time when I was between albums and what I remember most about the session is her advice and how warm, cool and how friendly like a big sister she was at that moment. My husband and I were just trying to navigate what was going on in the business. She just kept stressing the importance of family and not focusing so much on the success of the business. Looking at her, it was like 'You're a superstar, you seem to have it all.'
"She warned me that it could all be very deceiving. She put these nuggets of great information out to encourage me, help and inspire me to not give up.
To really prioritize and family became the priority." Continuing, Deborah added, "I truly believe had we not had that conversation in that moment... I wouldn't be here today with my children and my family; still in this business."
The connection continues on as we talked about the biopic "Whitney," directed by Angela Bassett and released in 2015. Cox explained just how
she dubbed the vocals for the Lifetime television bio. "Interesting how that happens. Angela was directing it and the musical supervisor, Dick Rudolph reached out to me. Angela and I are friends on a personal level, not so much on a professional level, and that project brought us together on a professional level. We had been friends for a long time and essentially she really didn't think about me doing it. It was Dick who called and reached out and said to her, 'I know the perfect person who can do it.' So, when he mentioned me, she was like, 'Oh my god, that's my girlfriend! That's like one of my closest friends.' They got me on the phone and talked to me about the songs they wanted to record and the approach. I said, 'I'm in. Let me know.' It was literally the only weekend I had free and I flew out to do it. I went in and knocked six songs out. I didn't have a lot of time, but with direction and focus, we did it."
As a singer and actress of Deborah Cox's caliber and as a woman who has also had a connection with Whitney Houston as a friend-both professionally and privately-how does she make her starring role for "The Bodyguard" her own and also honor Houston's legacy? Cox offered a wise and telling observation: "Honestly, I think the approach has to be from a place of authenticity, because if you try and create a caricature, that's where you get
into problems. For me, that's how I've approached everything; I think what I've found in myself and the character of Rachel is that there are a lot of commonalities. There are a lot of things that I draw from my own life I'm able to portray and put into Rachel. Rachel is a mother and she's nurturing, she's a career woman, she's a diva when she needs to be, and she's got her guard up. I'm very protective, there's a lot of similarities in that sense. That's what
I try to bring to the piece and I try to approach it from a very fresh place and new place every day.
"The thing that is really unique and really special about our production, is that for all of us the show takes place in America and there's a certain thing that we have here in North America we bring to the show. For me, knowing who played the character initially, gives me a real advantage as well, because I can pull from those personal things and I know how to apply them to the role."
First stop for "The Bodyguard" in Southern California is at Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles from Tuesday, May 2 through Sunday, May 21. For tickets and more information, call 323.468.1770 or go to hollywoodpantages.com.
"The Bodyguard" next plays at the Segerstrom Center for the
Arts, 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa from Tuesday, May
30 through Sunday, June 11. BONUS: To honor Pride month, Segerstrom is offering a "Queen of the Night Party Package" for The Bodyguard on Thursday, June 1. The $95 package includes: A $79 orchestra ticket, food, drink and an exclusive post show party with Deborah Cox and cast! For tickets and more information, call 714.556.2787 or go to scfta.org/lgbt.
Final stop on "The Bodyguard" tour is from Tuesday, June 13 through Sunday, June 18 at Downtown San Diego's Civic Theatre, 3666 Fourth Avenue. For tickets and more informa- tion, call 619.564.3000 or go to broadwaysd.com