Song & Stage

Musical Review: The Gateway’s ‘The Bodyguard: The Musical’ 

The show makes sweet music and breaks hearts.

The next show in The Gateway’s summer season explodes onto the stage with music and lyrics made famous by the late, great Whitney Houston, and the thrilling story from her 1992 movie of the same name. The Bodyguard: The Musical is everything you want it to be and then some. The glitz, glamour and drama will draw you in—and keep you hooked.

Kimber Sprawl as Rachel Marron in The Gateway's
Kimber Sprawl, Photo: Jeff Bellante

Kimber Sprawl as Rachel Marron commands attention every time she struts onto the stage. She plays her character with an energy that is compelling and a voice that comes so close to the incomparable Houston. She came out with a fiery version of “Queen of the Night,” and slayed the song.

The story from the popular move is basically the same, with a few changes to suit the stage. Rachel Marron is on her way to winning an Oscar, when she begins receiving alarming notes from a stalker. Her manager decides she needs a serious bodyguard. Enter the stoic, yet charming Frank Farmer, played by Michael Shenefelt, who exudes those dreamy Kevin Costner vibes everyone will no doubt be looking for—the little grin. His gentlemanly ways. His inability to resist either Rachel or her sister Nicki, which is more of a story in the musical adaptation, adds to the intensity of the story that unfolds. Nicki Marron is played by Danea Osseni, and while the sisters share a talent for singing, it is always Rachel who was the star. Nicki acts as her close assistant and helps Rachel look after her young son, Fletcher.

At first, Rachel resists Frank’s presence and his seemingly overprotective ways, but after a close call with her terrifying stalker at a nightclub in Miami, she cooperates for the sake of her family’s safety. It’s here where the two begin to fall for one another. Nicki ends up falling hard for Frank, as well, and when she finds out Rachel and Frank are involved it’s obvious something dark is eating away at Nicki, with an alarming hatred directed toward her sister.

Houston’s hits take us through this love story-turned-mystery with a musical twist. The ensemble is strong, the costumes dazzling with countless sequins. The music takes us on the journey, with favorites like “How Will I Know,” “Run to You” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” underscoring the characters’ journeys.

Kimber Sprawl as Rachel Marron in The Gateway's
Kimber Sprawl and the ensemble of The Gateway’s “The Bodyguard: The Musical,” Photo: Jeff Bellante

Nicki plays more of a role than in the film and her love of singing and resentment toward her sister is explored in greater detail. When Frank shows up at Nicki’s small gig at a local dive, she starts to fall hard for the strong, handsome bodyguard. It’s clear that both sisters have talent, but there is no question who the star is—Rachel commands the stage, and all beings seem to rotate around her. The reality of a stalker, a dangerous one with murderous intent, shakes Rachel to her core at a point in her career where she is at the top of her game, threatens to ruin it all.

The culmination of it all is, of course, the Oscars ceremony where all expect the stalker to make his final move. The events play out in intense fashion and the players don’t miss a beat. Throughout it all, the musical backdrop is mesmerizing, the stand-out song being the signature “I Will Always Love You.” Sprawl sings her heart out, hitting all the notes and sending her voice cascading through the audience. By the end, there will definitely be a standing ovation.

The ending sequence is a medley of the favorite tunes throughout the show and it’s impossible not to join the cast as they sing about how “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” So grab your “somebody” and enjoy this incredible adaptation of the movie and fall in love with the characters all over again.

The Bodyguard: The Musical plays at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport now through July 20. For tickets and information visit gatewayplayhouse.org.

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