Garden Theater, Winter garden FL
by Carl F. Gauze
Book by Alexander Dinelaris
Based on a screen play by Lawrence Kasdan
Directed by Sara Catherine Barnes
Starring Virginia Roebuck, John Andrew, Lillie Eliza Thomas, and Omari Pernell
We love peeking behind the “rich and famous curtain,” and this show delivers the goods. Rachel Marion (Roebuck) is a rising pop talent. She’s surrounded by aides and sycophants and advisers, but when she gets a creepy letter during a show her manager hires some muscle. Frank Framer (Andrew) gets the gig after studiously trying not to. Frank’s that sort of tough guy you admire: Quick with a pistol and not bad at karaoke night. At first Rachel despises him; his advice is sound, but it does take the fun out of being famous. But a Grammy nomination and another scary letter found on the kitchen table brings Rachel around and a nascent romance begins between the pair. Rachel’s younger sister Nicki (Thomas) is a bit put out; her career never gets out of the underground club scene. With the romantic tension set, it’s time for some creepy guy action. T and there’s a gunfight, an inconvenient body and now it’s time for Frank to move on. Action, adventure, great singing and a cute kid makes this all sing.
The Bodyguard is only a step or two away from a stock jukebox musical. Pretty much all of Whitney Houston’s hits enter the show, and they are the main entertainment. I give Roebuck and Andrew points for chemistry and their nice romantic arc. He’s the tough guy, fast with his pistol in more ways than one. Our tragic character is sister Nikki (Thomas); she just can’t get out of her big sister’s shadow and she pays the price. Then there’s a cute kid Fletcher (Pernell). When he’s on stage pretty much everyone else can just read their lines and then go home. That set consists of a surprisingly complex LED lit cube highlighting the performance number and movie screens that shows up mostly in the off stage times. All the set pieces stay in motion with set changes in the dim backstage area occurring while down stage the story plays out. I count 16 numbers here, and it is a two hour plus intermission evening. Sound and musical arrangements are tight and snazzy under the baton of Elaine Cotignola, with choreography from James Tuuao. We care for the people on stage, except of course for that mysterious stalker. But without him all we would have left is a concert. It’s a 1990’s musical extravaganza, and a bit of a peek into how the lives of the rich and Oscared live their lives. Celebrities – so rich you can do anything you want, except when you do those things you want, its a security risk.