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“Save All Your Love” for The Bodyguard at the Paper Mill Playhouse

By Shelley Bromberg, www.msbrom.com

originally published: 12/06/2016

“Save All Your Love” for The Bodyguard at the Paper Mill Playhouse

Romantic. Thrilling. Colorful. Incredible vocals sung to a playlist of pop songs from the ’80s and early ’90s. For all of these features and more, it is not hard to fall in love with The Bodyguard at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. 

It is no surprise that The Bodyguard kicks off its North American premiere at one of New Jersey’s theatrical gems, the Paper Mill Playhouse, which received the 2016 Tony Award for best regional theatre. The play is based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 film The Bodyguard, which features pop superstar Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Houston herself is considered a legendary New Jersey icon, having roots from Newark and East Orange.

“Save All Your Love” for The Bodyguard at the Paper Mill Playhouse

This production of The Bodyguard is a must-see (and must-hear!) because of two dynamic songstresses who effortlessly belt out Houston’s greatest hits. Deborah Cox powerfully delivers 13 songs in this production, most notably “I Have Nothing,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “One Moment in Time.” Cox herself is a Grammy Award-nominated recording artist who made her Broadway debut in the lead role in Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida

When discussing this role, Deborah Cox is quoted in The Record as saying, “It’s big shoes to fill. These songs are iconic, and people have expectations. I think that we want to represent this show, this property, as best we can, so there’s a lot at stake. And also, we want to tell a story. It’s not a jukebox musical. This is a real piece of art, of theater. It’s a compelling story.”

The second vocal powerhouse on stage is Jasmin Richardson who brilliantly delivers “All at Once” and “Saving All My Love.” The audience savors a double treat when Cox and Richardson sing together, most notably in a stunning duet on “Run to You.”



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Rounding out the principal cast are Judson Mills (Walker, Texas Ranger), capably taking on the role of Frank Farmer; Alex Corrado (Gotham, Hannibal) as Tony Scibelli; Charles Gray (The Color Purple, Grease) as Bill Devaney, Rachel’s personal security guard; Jonathan Hadley (Jersey Boys, A Class Act) as publicist Sy Spector; Douglas Baldeo (Kinky Boots, Motown) and Kevelin B. Jones III (Idlewild Music Festival) alternating in the role of Rachel’s son Fletcher.

“Save All Your Love” for The Bodyguard at the Paper Mill Playhouse

Kudos must be given to the entire production staff. Thea Sharrock (Equus) is the director, and the book is written by Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman). The musical direction is under Matthew Smedal and the choreography is by Karen Bruce (Strictly Come Dancing). 

The Bodyguard tells the story of superstar Rachel Marron (Deborah Cox), who receives death threats from a clever-yet-menacing stalker (Jorge Paniagua). Her entourage hires former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard Frank Farmer (Judson Mills) to protect Rachel. 

With top hits and a possible Oscar on the way, Rachel is not willing to give up her freedom and rigorous concert schedule to protect herself, which directly conflicts with Farmer’s urgency to guard her at all costs. Both Marron and Farmer are more interested in taking charge and setting their own agendas. So it comes as a surprise to both when they find themselves falling for each other. A love-triangle develops as Rachel’s sister, Nicki Maron (Jasmin Richardson) also comes to care for the handsome and protective Farmer. 

The plot thickens as the stalker gets access to Rachel’s son, Fletcher, and later, to Farmer’s home in the country. Does Rachel make it to the Oscars? How is the love triangle resolved? Is the stalker captured or does he succeed in harming Rachel and/or her family? All is answered by the play’s conclusion. 

“Save All Your Love” for The Bodyguard at the Paper Mill Playhouse

The production takes clever use of film montages, a scrim curtain, and colorful lighting (Mark Henderson) that make the viewer feel at times like he or she is actually at a rock concert. Houston’s pop hits like “I Wanna Dance with Someone” and “I Get so Emotional” are cleverly interspersed throughout the show. There is even a fun use of karaoke to “Where do Broken Hearts Go?” which smoothly transitions into a captivating performance of “I Have Nothing.” 

By the show’s ending, audience members erupt in a standing ovation. If you have an opportunity to see this production, do so. And if you do, make sure you stay until after the curtain calls, as you are in for a fun and special surprise!

“The Bodyguard” is running at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn through January 1. Afterwards, the production is set to tour nationally. For more information call 973–376–4343 or visit PaperMill.org.

All photos by Matthew Murphy except for the third, which is by Jerry Dalia.





J CITY Theater Returns With "Bakersfield Mist"
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- J CITY Theater launches their first full season in four years with their Fall show: Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs at their new location – The Barrow Mansion, 83 Wayne Street.  The production runs Thursdays through Sundays from September 28th through October 13th. Set in a downtrodden trailer park in California, Bakersfield Mist is the story of Maude Gutman (Sandy Cockrell) who has recently purchased an ugly painting at Daisy’s Junk Shop for three dollars.  Turns out, the painting may actually be a lost masterpiece by Jackson Pollock.   
Old Library Theatre Presents "Parade"
(FAIR LAWN, NJ) -- Old Library Theatre, Fair Lawn Recreation Department's resident theater company, presents Parade. Six performances only: October 12, 13, 19 & 20 at 8:00pm and October 14 & 21 at 2:00pm.  Parade tells the story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-raised Jew living in Georgia in 1913, who is put on trial for the murder of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker under his employ.
The Lord Stirling Theater Company Presents "Treasure Island"
(BASKING RIDGE, NJ) -- The Lord Stirling Theater Company will present Treasure Island in the English Barn Theater at the Farmstead Arts Center October 5-7 and October 12-14. Adapted for the stage by award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You) from the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island follows the adventures of a boy named Jim Hawkins who comes into possession of a treasure map.
Premiere Stages to Present World Premiere of Liberty Live Commission "Black Tom Island"
(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages at Kean University will present Martin Casella’s Black Tom Island from October 11-21 at Liberty Hall Museum (1003 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J.). Originally commissioned over a two-year cycle through Premiere’s Liberty Live Commission, Black Tom Island will feature actors Damian Buzzerio, Mason Hensley, Jenna Krasowski and Bart Shatto. Producing artistic director John J. Wooten directs.
American Poetry Theater Presents "Gun Love"
(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- The American Poetry Theater presents Gun Love from October 5-7.  The play, written by cast and community members, runs about one hour and is a collection of monologues and a skit dealing with gun violence in America.  


Two River Theater Presents The World Premiere of "Pamela's First Musical"
If anyone ever doubts that New Jersey is home to great theatre, just point them to the world premiere of “Pamela’s First Musical” at Two River Theater. The cast and creative behind this show by Wendy Wasserstein and Christopher Durang includes a combined total of more than 25 Tony Award nominations and seven wins. It’s a cast that would look impressive at any theatre – Broadway  or otherwise. According to one of the stars, the opportunity to work with the 10-time Tony Award nominee director/choreographer Graciela Daniele and to be part of a new musical was too good to pass up.
The Jersey Devil on stage: An interview with playwright Brandon Monokian
Up-and-coming New Jersey native Brandon Monokian has worked as an actor, writer, director, producer, and popcorn sample distributor. He wrote and starred in the film Happy Yummy Chicken and co-founded the production company Love Drunk Life with Katie Frazer. Together they have produced plays, films, books, and, to support their creative work financially, a product line: lovedrunklife.com. Monokian received national attention through Revolutionary Readings (his TEDx talk at Princeton Library), which was used to fight the banning of the book Revolutionary Voices from two New Jersey libraries. 
An Interview With Nicole Pandolfo
Nicole Pandolfo is a talented playwright from New Jersey whose work has been produced on four continents along with readings and productions throughout the Garden State. Her play, Brick City, is currently being presented at Premiere Stages at Kean University now through September 23rd. The play was commissioned and developed via the NJPAC Stage Exchange program. Premiere's production features Rafael Benoit, Jacqueline Correa, Madison Ferris and Chris Grant under the direction of Jessi D. Hill.
Ritz Opens Season With "Incorruptible"
Fun seems to be the operative word for “Incorruptible,” the production that opens the fall season at  the Ritz Theatre Company on Thursday, September 13.
"Bright Star" at Surflight Theatre
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Broadway musical “Bright Star” has come to Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven. The comedian and the songwriter created the show after collaborating on a Grammy-winning bluegrass album called “Love Has Come For You.” “Bright Star” is set in the American South in the 1920s and ’40s, and it’s on a similar musical wavelength. We recently spoke with Surflight’s Artistic Director Steve Steiner, actor Adrianne Hick and director Elizabeth Lucas about bringing “Bright Star” to Long Beach Island.






Event calendar
Saturday, Sep 22, 2018


MUSIC

Asbury Park Porchfest @ Booskerdoo, Asbury Park - 12:00pm

Carl Chesna & Co. @ Hotel Tides, Asbury Park - 1:00pm

Echoes @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Cole Swindell @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

GRUPO NICHE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

The History of Motown @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Drake Bell @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live feat. The Glimmer Twins @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Opera Theatre of Montclair Presents Hansel and Gretel @ Central Presbyterian Church, Montclair - 4:00pm


Oscar D’León with Tony Vega and Los Hermanos Moreno @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

SunDog Band at Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ @ Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ, Paterson - 9:00pm

Celtic Thunder X @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Young Person's Concert @ River Dell Middle School Auditorium, River Edge - 1:00pm


Tigerman record release show for “Descend Into Savagery” @ Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Hubby Jenkins @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Incorruptible @ Ritz Theatre Company, Haddon Township - 8:00pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Theatre Brut Session 2 @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 2:00pm

Evita @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Claire, Anton et Eux" @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

HUMAN ERROR by Eric Pfeffinger @ West Windsor Arts Center, Princeton Junction - 8:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Assisted Living: The Musical @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 3:00pm


DANCE

SWAN LAKE - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

SOLE Defined @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


LITERATURE

Monthly Saturday Writing Retreats @ Tiferet Journal, Bernardsville - 9:00am

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