MILLBURN, NJ – You won’t go wrong if you opt for “The Bodyguard,” the blockbuster musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.
From gun shots to strobe lights to spotlights and glitter, the show blasts away like a rocket. Yet there are quite moments as well. There’s also a psycopathic killer on the loose, obsessed with the singing star, Rachel.
Deborah Cox is stunning, sexy and vibrant in the role of Rachel Marron, created in the film by Whitney Houston. It turns out Houston was a mentor to Cox, who portrayed her in the Lifetime Houston TV biopic, “Whitney.” Cox knows how to deliver ballads and high energy numbers from “All the Man That I Need” to “One Moment in Time.” Of course there’s the familiar, “I Will Always Love You,” written by Dolly Parton, which Cox sings with a searing sense of loss. But there are others songs, too, written by a variety of composers, including “Queen of the Night” and “Greatest Love of All.”
Cox isn’t the only standout singer in this production. Jasmin Richardson as her sister, Nicki, matches her note for note with their duet, “Run to You.” There’s envy on Nicki’s part, when she is entranced by the bodyguard, played Judson Mills. But Rachel has conquered him first. Mills is hilarious when he attempts to sing in a Karaoke bar. But he is also convincing as the buffer between Rachel and her unpredictable fans.
The stalker is played by Jorge Paniagua, who received the expected jeers during curtain calls. But he held his own in the finale and added just the right degree of tension to the plot.
Douglas Baldeo, as Rachel’s 10-year-old son Fletcher has quite a voice. He performs convincingly through both warm and scary moments in the show. Fletcher, Nicki and Rachel combine in a touching “Jesus Loves Me” while secluded in a cabin.
“The Bodyguard” is directed by Thea Sharrock, who also directed the Olivier nominated musical in London. Choreographer Karen Bruce is part of the international music team. The show has been performed in Germany and other productions will move on to Toronto, Australia and South Korea.
“The Bodyguard” ha shades of Las Vegas with its flashy sets, high stepping dancers and strong surge of energy. This sensational musical continues through Jan. 1 at the Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn. For tickets all 973-376-4343 or visit papermill.org.