The 1992 movie The Bodyguard was a showcase for music legend Whitney Houston. The movie’s soundtrack defined the early part of the decade and spawned the super hit I Will Always Love You. It was only a matter of time before the movie musical became a real live musical. I’m surprised it’s taken this long, really. The touring production is hitting Baltimore this week, Tuesday Feb 28th through March 5th. Deborah Cox who has the unenviable task of playing the role Whitney immortalized. I caught up with Judson Mills who is taking on the task of playing Frank Farmer – the role Kevin Costner made famous.
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I went to school at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts for stage & theater. I started in theater off Broadway & quickly got into film and television where I have been for most of my career. When they were having difficulty casting the role of the bodyguard, my dear friend Alex Dinelaris ( who wrote the book) called me and asked if I would be interested in traveling. After putting some scenes of me on an iPhone in his hotel, here we are.
You are playing a part that made famous by Kevin Costner, how do you approach it? Did you study up on the movie or avoid watching it, so you can do your own thing?
I’m a big Kevin Costner fan, and the fan of the movie as well, so I definitely have been influenced by his performance, but when rehearsals started I tried to leave that aside and start from a simple fresh place and I allow my own Frank Farmer to develop
Can you talk a bit about what’s changed from the movie and kept the same?
Obviously a great deal of locations changed because we are confined by the stage in this circumstance. There are some differences in the relationships between Frank, Rachel, & Nicki as well. I don’t want to tip our hand too much because I would prefer you came and saw the changes for yourself!! But most of the story is the same in terms of the conflict between Rachel and Frank and the danger from the stalker. The love story is in tact.
What is the hardest part about being in an production that’s adapted from such a well known source and how do you overcome it?
The hardest part about being in a production this well-known is hoping that people’s expectations will be met and they will enjoy the show as much as the movie. Fortunately, we get a lot of feedback from people saying they like the shower even better than the movie. So I’m grateful for that.
What are you most excited for fans to see?
I think I’m most excited for fans to see the karaoke scene. It’s probably my favorite part of the show. The ending is very good as well. I’m always excited for people to see Deborah slaying “I Will Always Love You.”
Be sure to check out The Bodyguard at Baltimore’s France-Merrick Hippodrome Theater, February 28th – May 5th. Check out the website for the full tour schedule. The Hippodrome’s 2017/2018 Broadway season is now on sale.