‘The Bodyguard’: A musical adaptation of the hit movie brings suspense, heart and great music
A talented ensemble at the Gateway Playhouse has a mid-summer hit with their adaptation of “The Bodyguard: The Musical.” Based on the 1992 movie starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, “The Bodyguard” is a romantic thriller that provides a balance between show-stopping musical numbers and heart-stopping suspense.
Rachel Marron, played by Kimber Sprawl, a Broadway veteran making her Gateway debut, is a pop star with an emerging security issue. She’s been receiving vague threats to her safety, so her team decides to hire a security expert to be her bodyguard. She and the bodyguard, Frank Farmer, played by Michael Shenefelt, go through tension, love, chaos and more together.
The show follows two basic storylines that eventually crash into one another. On one side, we watch an international star trying to climb the ladder of her career. On the other, an investigation into threatening letters jeopardizes Rachel’s efforts. Overall, the show runners bring the performance into 2019, using iPhones and modern references. There is also a very creative set design, fit for a pop star’s stage.
Standout performances include Shenefelt, who holds the perfect persona for a strict, ex-military bodyguard. He is able to have a consistent personality and almost makes you forget he is acting. Another standout star is Danea Osseni, who plays Rachel’s sister Nikki Marron. Osseni’s voice is smooth as silk and can deliver a soulful performance of some classic songs from the show. And we can’t forget about 10-year-old Thomas DeLoach, who plays Rachel’s son Fletcher, an integral part of understanding the struggle the whole Marron crew has endured during the threats. DeLoach is able to form a delicate connection with his co-star Sprawl that makes their relationship a centerpiece of the story.
It’s also impossible not to mention Matt Baguth, who plays the stalker sending Marron threatening letters. Baguth perfectly embodies what a stereotypical stalker looks and acts like, in a way that makes the audience move toward the edge of their seats with each movement.
The show is almost like a Whitney Houston greatest hits album, including songs like “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Saving All My Love,” “I Have Nothing,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and ”I Will Always Love You.” Sprawl has an incredible voice that makes the songs fit well into the story.
The whole ensemble deserves credit for making this show a success. The dance routines organized by choreographer Deb Roshe are challenging, yet the ensemble makes them look easy. They were also talented actors who were able to add subtle details to make the show fuller. Credit should also be given to the pit orchestra, which not only nails the instrumentals for some of the most iconic songs in history, but is able to turn on a dime and perfectly articulate a feeling of suspense through music. Anyone who watches horror knows that music often tells more than any other part of the story. This is no different, and the ominous, creepy music conveys in no uncertain terms how the audience should feel. And felt they did, right until the final number.