Deborah Cox and her ‘Body’ of work

Deborah Cox and her ‘Body’ of work

The Bodyguard tells the story of Frank Farmer, who is hired to protect singer Rachel Marron from a stalker. Danger mixes with a love story between the two while classic movie soundtrack tunes are performed.

The film version made more than $400 million worldwide and the musical version is now a hit.

No stranger to Broadway, Cox has performed in a variety of musicals such as Aida and Jekyll & Hyde. She portrayed Josephine Baker in Josephine last year at Asolo Repertory Theatre.

Also, Cox belted out 12 number-one songs on Billboard’s Hot Dance Play chart. Cox collaborated with the legendary Houston on the duet “Same Script, Different Cast.”

Her work in the LGBT community has garnered her many awards, including being the Harvey Milk Foundation’s Diversity Honoree in 2015, and being part of the Liberty Bell and Proclamation in Philadelphia LGBTQ Pride Day in 2016.

Windy City Times: Where in the world are you calling from?

Deborah Cox: I am in Appleton, Wisconsin. We go to Memphis from here, then to Chicago.

WCT: Last time you were here, we talked backstage at Market Days.

DC: Oh, yes.

WCT: You put on such a great show and always support the gay community.

DC: Thank you. I love Chicago.

WCT: We are excited to have you back. Is the musical version of The Bodyguard updated from the time of the original movie?

DC: Yes. It is based off of the movie. The writer Alexander Dinelaris expanded a bit on a few of the characters. The stage production is slightly different in the sense that there is more music. There are songs from the film but there is additional music from Whitney Houston’s catalog.

It is a really thrilling, sexy, suspenseful show. When you see the live production it is really chilling to see it.

WCT: I heard the focus is more on Rachel than in the original movie.

DC: There is definitely a lot more songs and singing. The central character is Rachel Marron, so she is spotlighted.

WCT: Her sister, Nicki Marron, is featured, isn’t she?

DC: You get more of the story with the Rachel’s sister and the things she is going through. What I thought was clever was many of the songs help to tell the story and shape the characters. Jasmin Richardson who plays Nicki sings “Saving All My Love” and “All at Once.” Lyrically, those songs help to tell her story.

WCT: Jay Manuel did the makeup for the show?

DC: Jay Manuel Beauty provided the makeup for the tour. He designed and revamped Rachel’s look. That is really great because you want to bring something forward and fresh to the character.

WCT: What is the balance of making the character your own or channeling Whitney?

DC: For me, there is no balance. Everyone knows there is only one Whitney Houston. I am not trying to go in and do a caricature.

It is more complicated in my case because she was my friend and a mentor. We were label mates. We sang a duet together. I knew the person that played the role. It is something I have to work on every single performance, to bring my own voice to Rachel Marron to this version of the show.

While I am hugely honored to playing Rachel, I know the shoes I have to fill because everyone knows the movie so well. There are high expectations from people. That is pretty much what I go in with every night. I go in to tell the story, not just with songs, but through the acting, through my relationship with Judson Mills, who plays Frank Farmer. I think it is important for people to see the connection through the scenes.

WCT: Do you have a favorite Whitney song?

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