About the only real distinction of the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard” is that it gave Whitney Houston her first starring role in a Hollywood flick and featured a couple of her chart-topping songs.
Alexander Dinelaris’ 2012 stage musical version improves greatly upon Lawrence Kasdan’s screenplay, and its score is packed to the rafters with Houston song hits – namely, “Greatest Love of All,” “Saving All My Love,” “Run To You,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “All At Once” and “I Will Always Love You.”
The 2016 U.S. touring version now at Segerstrom Center proves that a so-so romantic thriller laced with melodrama can actually make a fairly compelling stage property – and one where the musical numbers make sense since the lead character is a superstar pop singer.
That would be Rachel Marron (Deborah Cox), whose receipt of increasingly threatening letters from a deranged fan prompts her manager to hire Frank Farmer (Judson Mills) as Rachel’s private bodyguard. Not simply a muscle-bound thug, Frank’s professional training includes elite work as a Secret Service agent.
The Rachel-Frank dynamic is that reliable standby of irresistible force (Rachel) meets immovable object (Frank). But Rachel’s instant dislike of Frank’s presence, which curtails her freedom, isn’t the only plot wrinkle. Her younger sister Nicki (Jasmin Richardson), equally hot and with nearly as much vocal talent, takes instantly to Frank. So does Rachel’s little boy Fletcher (Douglas Baldeo).
Casting a shadow over all is the creepy perp. Known only as “The Stalker” (played by a stone-faced Jorge Paniagua), he strikes a lot closer to Rachel’s home than anyone around her believes possible. In our celebrity-obsessed, terrorist-laden world, a story like this isn’t so far-fetched.
The score, expertly performed by music director and keyboardist Matthew Smedal and the seven-person orchestra, traces Frank and Rachel’s deepening emotional involvement, which…