Whitney Houston will always be remembered for her unmatched vocal skills and her award-winning, best-selling music career. But it’s also hard to forget her performance in the 1992 hit film The Bodyguard, where she wound up in Kevin Costner’s arms and hit all the high notes in the Grammy Award-winning song “I Will Always Love You,” which became the best-selling single by a female artist ever.
Whitney Houston fans, rejoice. The Bodyguard is back, in musical form this time, and it pays tribute to Whitney with 16 of her songs—even more than the original film. The storyline doesn’t stray too far from the film, either, though a few things have been slightly modified: bigger role for the sister character (translating to a love triangle between the bodyguard and the two women); the two bad guys from the film—obsessive fan and hit man-type—are combined into one crazy stalker; and the bodyguard tries out his singing voice in a karaoke bar. But other than that, the plot is mostly true to the classic. “There’s some comedy and some things in there that weren’t necessarily in the movie, but overall, the love story, and the suspense, and the thriller aspects of it are the same and are still intact,” explains Judson Mills, who plays Frank Farmer, the bodyguard himself, in the touring version of The Bodyguard, the Musical. Though Mills keeps fairly busy “just smoothin’ around and coolin’ around on stage doing his best Kevin Costner,” he took some time out to tell us a little about the show he’s very happy to be a part of.
“There are a lot of components to the show,” Mills explains. “It’s got a great love story—you’ll cry. It’s got some great suspense to it as well. And there are some laughs in this that you won’t be expecting. It’s a really well-rounded piece. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck."
“I feel good about our show, I feel good about what we’re doing,” Mills continues. “The cast and crew are amazing, the ensemble, the music and dancers are phenomenal.”
Mills also has high praise for co-star Deborah Cox, who plays the role of singer and love interest Rachel Marron. “Deborah Cox kills it,” he raves. “She delivers every note and every nuance that you would expect and hope to hear from the songs that you know so well. She’s a tour de force. Deborah and I have had great chemistry from the word ‘go,’ so that’s been good. We’re great friends, and I’m having a great time!”
“I’m just smoothin’ around and coolin’ around on stage doing my best Kevin Costner.”
Mills does primarily film and television work—you may have seen him in everything from Walker, Texas Ranger to Chill Factor—but he’s excited to be on stage with this production. Mills explains that he got involved with The Bodyguard when, in true “small world” form, his old college roommate—who just happened to have written the film-to-stage adaptation of the show—asked him to audition for the part. Mills agrees that it’s helpful to know the right people, especially when the right people are also good people. “I can’t say enough about the group that I’m having the privilege of working with right now. They’re just a great group of hard-working, really selfless, great people,” Mills says. “From the first day of rehearsal, there was just a real sense of camaraderie, and a real family kind of thing started to happen.”
But not only do the cast and crew enjoy putting on the show, it’s a real crowd-pleaser as well. “The fans really love it. Everybody who comes to see it really seems to responding to it, so it’s really nice.” This comes as no surprise to Mills. “This is a wonderful moment in time. I knew something special was happening right from the get-go. So, it doesn’t surprise me that the show is being as well-received as it is or that it’s being as successful as it is, because it’s just a moment!”
But a production like this is not without its challenges. Mills admits that he has big boots to fill by following in Costner’s footsteps. “There’s a little pressure there in terms of smooth factor, because Costner is pretty much as cool as they come.” Of course, Costner’s boots would be much easier to fill if Mills was able to put his own on properly. “I’ve had my cowboy boots put on backwards twice for the final scene where I come out and say goodbye [to Rachel] and we have our emotional, tender, ‘so long,’ torn-lover scene, and we kiss and … I had my boots on backwards and I felt like something out of the movie Elf with Will Farrell,” Mills says with a laugh. “It’s hard to get your sexy on with your boots on backwards.”
The Bodyguard, the Musical is only here for a limited run at the Saenger Theatre from Tuesday April 4 thru Sunday April 9. Don’t miss this great production. Says Mills, “Come see the show. It’s fun! I promise you’ll enjoy it.”
For more information or to buy tickets, click HERE.