TR Robertson – The newest musical presentation at The Welk Theatre, “The Bodyguard the Musical”, brought rave responses from those in attendance on Saturday evening as they exited the theatre. People could be heard making comments like, “That was a beautiful performance” and What a wonderful voice the lead had”. All statements that were absolutely true. The nearly sold-out crowd, in the 339-seat theatre, laughed at times, were mesmerized by the musical and dance performances and gave a standing ovation to the performers at the end of the musical as they joined in clapping and singing along with the final number, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”.
“The Bodyguard the Musical” is partially based on the 1992 film “The Bodyguard”, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. The movie’s screenplay was by Lawrence Kasden. The film was Houston’s acting debut. The movie was taken from a book by Alexander Dinelaris. The soundtrack from the film won 3 Grammy awards including Album of the Year. The musical previewed at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End in 2012. In 2013 it was nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards. The show toured in the United States in 2016-2018, beginning with a National Tour in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The musical deviates a little from the movie in its story line, which basically concerns an award-winning singer who is being stalked by an unknown individual and a bodyguard who is assigned to protect her, not to the approval of the singer. Through a series of incidents, the singer begins to understand the importance of having a bodyguard and at the same time feelings developing between the two. Along with this, the singer’s sister will play a role in both the life of the bodyguard and her sister, leading to a tense, emotional ending that will change the life of both the singer and the bodyguard.
Photos by Ken Jacques
The musical is predominantly dominated by the singing of the lead Rachel Marron, all performed incredibly by the powerful voice of Daebreon Poiema. Poiema is remarkable in her performances, both singing, acting, and dancing. Her first song is a fast-paced performance of “Queen of the Night”, performed with the musical’s ensemble. She sings a beautiful acapella version of “The Greatest Love of All”. Daebreon also gives beautiful performances of songs that are now well-known Whitney Houston songs, such as “I’m Every Woman”, “One Moment in Time” and the unforgettable cover version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”, before leading everyone, along with the ensemble, in the final song of the evening, the rousing “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”. Daebreon had presented a wonderful performance as Aida in “Aida” at Moonlight a few years ago.
Playing the bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is Lance Arthur Smith. Smith is both an actor, a writer and a fight choreographer and has been in numerous regional theatres, last seen at the Welk as Bill in “Mamma Mia!”. He presents Farmer as a stoic, no nonsense, man of few words; but gives a funny, out of tune performance of “I Will Always Love You” at the Karaoke Bar. He also shows his softer side in dealing with Rachel’s son, Fletcher. In a funny audience moment at the end of Act I, between scene changes, a bed is rolled on stage with an interesting series of Oh’s and Ah’s from the audience, growing even louder in the romantic final Act I scene of a passionate kiss between Rachel and Frank. I think the older crowd enjoyed this “One Moment in Time”.
Playing Rachel’s sister Nicki Marron, is Patricia Jewel, making her Welk debut. Patricia also has also performed in numerous regional productions. She is a gifted singer, with a powerful voice shown in the bluesy “Saving All My Love for You” and the emotional “All at Once”. Twelve-year-old Faizi Mahalingam plays Rachel’s son, Fletcher. He is in the 6th grade at La Mesa Arts Academy. Faizi become an audience favorite with his dance routine in “How Will I Know” and in joining Daebreon and Patricia as they sing “Jesus Loves Me So” in Act II. A well-known actor to San Diego Theatre stages, Steve Gunderson, plays Rachel’s gruff Music Producer Sy Spector. Gunderson is a Craig Noel San Diego Critics Award winner for Actor of the Year for his performance in “Sweeny Todd” at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town. He is also remembered at Christmas time performing for many years in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.
The remaining members of the cast include Max Cadillac as Douglas and in Ensemble, Dan Mason as Tony, Brian Osuna as the Stalker and in the Ensemble and Mark Torres as Devaney. The Ensemble includes amazing dance and accompanying singers included Deborah Fauerbach, Shira Jackman, Angeline Mirenda, Shelby Monson, Samantha Roper, Matthew Ryan and Jupityr Shaw. Four of the Ensemble girls also gave a funny performance as four inebriated college girls singing “Where do Broken Hearts Go” at the Karaoke Bar. The Ensemble’s dance routine to “I’m Every Woman” brought out a rousing round of applause from the audience.
“The Bodyguard” is directed by Producing Artistic Director Larry Raben. This creative team includes Music Director Lyndon Pugeda, Lighting Designer Jennifer Edwards, Sound Designer Jordan Gray, Costume Designer Janet Pitcher, Set Designer Rory Brown and The Brown Studio, and Wig Designer Peter Herman. A special mention of the quick set changes with the movable walls to create a variety of backgrounds, assisted by the crew Meagan Pitcher, Axel Morrison, and Amber Whitmore. The beautiful array of costumes for Rachel were impressive, especially the gown she wore for the Oscar performance. Quick costume changes were featured in several numbers.
This is a fun, fast paced musical with energetic and catchy songs most people will remember. It is definitely a “great night out show” you should take in if you have never seen this musical, and worth seeing again if you have seen it before. I saw people at the ticket office at the end of the show purchasing tickets for another day. You will see tremendous performances on stage at The Welk Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at www.Tickets.TheWelkSanDiego.com or call 760-74903448. “The Bodyguard the Musical” will be at The Welk Theatre until June 11th.