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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Deborah Cox Enraptures Fans in The Bodyguard

Written by  Frankie Kujawa

Whitney Houston once said, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” This line from her iconic song has resonated with many of her fans, especially those of the LGBT community. Later this month, fans will be able to pay homage to the late singer in time to memorialize the 5th anniversary of her passing. The Bodyguard, the musical based on the Houston film, will fill the streets of Charm City with many of the singer’s classics when performed at the Hippodrome theatre Tuesday, February 28th through Sunday, March 5th.

“Approaching this project was about honoring Whitney,” explained Bodyguard star Deborah Cox. Cox plays the role of Rachel Marron, a role originated by Houston in the original film. “I wouldn’t say there was pressure [taking on this role] as it was more of expectations. When this project came along it was really important for me that it was approached in a way that was appropriate and with integrity.” Cox added, “Whitney and I had both recorded a duet together. We had a very close friendship that I still treasure.”

Cox, a Grammy Award-nominated and multi-platinum R&B and pop recording artist in her own right, explained that there were challenges taking on the role, but that “You have to be fearless and dive into it and not really care about what people think.” Cox added, “For me, it’s not about the critics. It’s about my own personal connection as an actor to this role and connecting with Rachel. I wanted to make sure that I could connect with her with as much authenticity as I could. I felt there were many similarities and things I could relate to and bring into the character.” Cox discussed that being part of a musical such as this is rare as it’s hard to find a story that is both thrilling with action and still pulls at your heartstrings. “You don’t normally get to experience all those things in one musical. Maybe in Phantom or Jekyll & Hyde, but here we have a sexy thriller and I think this performance gives you that.”

Starring alongside the handsome Judson Mills, playing the role of Frank Farmer, Cox described that audiences will see the instant attraction felt by both characters. “The chemistry on stage feels real. I believe that we have that essence of both characters. The audiences connect with the characters and by the end of the show they are rooting for Rachel and Frank.” Cox added, “You can tell because in that moment you can literally hear a pin drop with stillness. It’s unspoken what’s happening with the two characters on stage. The audience is just so in it and involved. As a performer, you can tell when the audience is with you and not with you. Fortunately, for us, we’ve had people coming back multiple times to see this story unfold.”

One of the most rewarding things, Cox says, is being able to bring a new legion of fans to both the show and the music. “We’re able to bring this whole new generation, who either doesn’t remember the film or hasn’t seen it, to this compelling story. It’s hard to believe that this film came out back in 1992. I was just starting to explore my recording career then. The movie just changed the game in the industry. A movie with a soundtrack and those pop songs! I love films and I love romantic thrillers and this was all in one. To be able to do this in a stage setting is really rewarding and it helps to keep the legacy of The Bodyguard fans alive.”

Along with her many achievements, Cox is also proud to be an LGBT advocate and ally for the community. “I think I was one of the first celebrities to go into the trenches and connect with the audiences before it was ‘en vogue.’ Now, it’s more about people getting involved because they want more notoriety or they want to look like they’re really connecting. For me, I think you show your support in the toughest of times. I remember being in the clubs and circuit parties at 4, 5, 6-o’clock in the morning and a lot of people were trying to figure out their identities. They didn’t have an outlet or a place to show who they were.”

Cox credited her talents as a singer as a way to help those in the LGBT community discover more about themselves. “I think that my music was part of that coming out for them and that’s what a lot of people have told me. The fans who have listened to my remixes and my songs tell me there’s something about the messages in the music that allowed them to be their authentic selves. I think that’s been my connection. It’s never been about the accolades, but the connections with the people for me. I’m not in this business for the accolades. I know that singing and performing is what I’ve been put on this earth to do, but when I’m able to sing and it helps to inspire someone to do something in a positive way, then I feel that’s my job. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s truly just as simple.”

It seems that Whitney Houston’s message of loving oneself and self-acceptance still endures in the musical legacy of artists who still proudly carry her flame.

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