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Theater

'The Bodyguard' makes stop in Pittsburgh and is sure to win hearts

| Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and company in 'The Bodyguard.'
©2016 Joan Marcus
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and company in 'The Bodyguard.'
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Judson Mills as Frank Farmer in 'The Bodyguard.'
©2016 Joan Marcus
Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Judson Mills as Frank Farmer in 'The Bodyguard.'

The music is the magic in the hit musical, "The Bodyguard," currently making its first U.S. national tour that stops in Pittsburgh Feb. 27-March 4 for eight performances at the Benedum Center.

The show is part of the 2017-18 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Broadway Across America.

It features classic tunes reinvented by the late Whitney Houston, who made her acting debut in the 1992 movie version of "The Bodyguard" and had hit singles for "I'm Every Woman," "I Have Nothing," "Run to You," "Queen of the Night" and her signature song, "I Will Always Love You."

In "The Bodyguard," multi-platinum R&B/pop recording artist and film/TV actress Deborah Cox, who stars as Rachel Marron in the musical's touring production, says, "I think people connect to the songs because they remember those melodies and what they felt when they first heard the songs."

She says it was the story and the music that drew her to "The Bodyguard," in which she portrays a superstar who hires former Secret Service agent-turned bodyguard Frank Farmer, played by Judson Mills, to protect her from an unknown stalker.

Here are some more facts about the show:

• Deborah Cox made her Broadway debut in the lead role in Elton John and Tim Rice's musical "Aida." She also starred on Broadway in 2013 as Lucy in "Jekyll & Hyde" and began her recording career as a background singer for Celine Dion.

• Judson Mills spent three years on the soap opera "As the World Turns" and has had more than 35 guest starring roles on television, in "Law and Order," "The X Files," "Dexter," "The Mentalist," ABC's new "Notorious" and HBO's "Westworld."

• Mills also was a regular with Chuck Norris on the CBS television series, "Walker, Texas Ranger" and has acted in 20 films, including "Major League 3: Back to the Minors," "Mighty Joe Young," "Chill Factor" and "Gods and Monsters."

• "The Bodyguard's" book writer Alexander Dinelaris won a 2015 Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for the film "Birdman," which starred Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton. Dinelaris also wrote the book for the Broadway musical "On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan."

• The song, "I Will Always Love You," originally was written and recorded in 1973 by Dolly Parton, who reportedly wrote the song as a tribute to former partner Porter Wagoner when she decided to pursue a solo career.

• "The Bodyguard" was the second highest grossing film of 1992, behind "Aladdin."

• The touring production includes Point Park University alum Megan Melville in the ensemble. Born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., she also appeared in "Vegas! The Show," Holland America Line and the film, "Love and Other Drugs."

• One hour before the Feb. 28 performance, the Cultural Trust will offer its free Know the Show Before You Go event for ticket holders at 6:30 p.m. at the Trust Arts Education Center, 807 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh. Designed to educate audiences about its Broadway performances to enhance their theater experience, the event includes refreshments. Those planning to attend must register at trustarts.org.

• The role of Rachel Marron will be played by Jasmin Richardson at the Saturday matinee and Sunday evening performances.

• The film version of "The Bodyguard" originally was proposed in the mid-1970s to star Diana Ross and Steve McQueen, but it was rejected as "too controversial," according to IMDb.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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