An inside look at ‘The Bodyguard’ with Deborah Cox

Deborah Cox, a longtime favorite in the LGBT community, is in Dallas right now, starring in the stage version of The Bodyguard, in the role made famous on the silver screen by Whitney Houston, and she sat down recently with Dallas Summer Musicals to give her fans an inside look at the production.

The show is presented by Dallas Summer Musicals  through July 30, 2017 at Music Hall at Fair Park. Click here for details and ticket information.

The show then moves to Fort Worth, playing Aug. 1-6 at Bass Performance Hall. Click here for details and ticket information.

Watch the video below:

—  Tammye Nash

STAGE REVIEW: ‘The Bodyguard’

I have to admit it upfront: I hated the movie version of The Bodyguard, and when I heard the original cast recording earlier this year felt underwhelmed. So I went into the stage version —  a jukebox musical now at Fair Park and then moving to Fort Worth’s Bass Hall — with jaundiced eyes. The plot is cheesy. The thriller aspect not-so-thrilling. The songs have not been assembled to actually advance the story in any meaningful way.

But I still loved it.

The Bodyguard is the stage iteration of the beach-read novel, or the summer movie blockbuster. Its aim is pure entertainment, and it hits a bullseye.

You probably know the plot: Recording star Rachel Marron (Deborah Cox) is campaigning for an Oscar for him film debut, but it being stalked by a dangerous fan. Her management team hires Frank (Judson Mills) to spearhead her security detail. She resists; he insists; both are kisses (by each other). Can Frank still protect Rachel while (gulp!) in love with her?!?!

C’mon!

The film was a monster hit, owing in large part to its soundtrack of hits sung by Whitney Houston. All of those songs — as well as more from Whitney’s canon (plus Chaka Khan, Deniece Williams and a few more) — get shoehorned into this show, but because Rachel is a singer (as well as her sister), there’s usually cause to plant Cox centerstage, hand her a microphone and zip up a mermaid dress, and let her belt out a number.

And belt she does. Cox is practically the raison d’etre of The Bodyguard, tasked with the most numbers, and she’s in fine voice. She’s a terrific stage presence. But Jasmine Richardson as her wallflower sister more than holds her own musically, Mills is a dashing and humorous Frank and even the backup dancers make for likable eye-candy. I don’t believe in the phrase “guilty pleasure,” but The Bodyguard definitely defies you not to be delighted. You’ll leave the theater happier than when you went in.

Fair Park through July 30. DallasSummerMusicals.org. Bass Hall, Aug. 1–6. BassHall.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PHOTOS: 2016 Black Tie Dinner (Part 4)

The 2016 Black Tie Dinner featured Kuchling Award Winner Dr. Steven Pounders, Olympian Greg Louganis, actresses Connie Britten and Debra Messing, comedienne Dana Goldberg, singers Todrick Hall and Deborah Cox and more. If you were there, here’s your chance to relive the evening in photos. If you weren’t there, you can see what you missed.

Watch for more slideshows to come!

All photos by Cassie Quinn of Hummingbird Blue Gallery.

—  Tammye Nash

PHOTOS: 2016 Black Tie Dinner (Part 3)

The 2016 Black Tie Dinner featured Kuchling Award Winner Dr. Steven Pounders, Olympian Greg Louganis, actresses Connie Britten and Debra Messing, comedienne Dana Goldberg, singers Todrick Hall and Deborah Cox and more. If you were there, here’s your chance to relive the evening in photos. If you weren’t there, you can see what you missed.

Watch for more slideshows to come!

All photos by Cassie Quinn of Hummingbird Blue Gallery.

—  Tammye Nash

PHOTOS: 2016 Black Tie Dinner (Part 2)

The 2016 Black Tie Dinner featured Kuchling Award Winner Dr. Steven Pounders, Olympian Greg Louganis, actresses Connie Britten and Debra Messing, comedienne Dana Goldberg, singers Todrick Hall and Deborah Cox and more. If you were there, here’s your chance to relive the evening in photos. If you weren’t there, you can see what you missed.

Watch for more slideshows to come!

All photos by Cassie Quinn of Hummingbird Blue Gallery.

—  Tammye Nash

PHOTOS: Black Tie Dinner 2016 (Part 1)

The 2016 Black Tie Dinner featured Kuchling Award Winner Dr. Steven Pounders, Olympian Greg Louganis, actresses Connie Britten and Debra Messing, comedienne Dana Goldberg, singers Todrick Hall and Deborah Cox and more. If you were there, here’s your chance to relive the evening in photos. If you weren’t there, you can see what you missed.

Watch for more slideshows to come!

All photos by Cassie Quinn of Hummingbird Blue Gallery.

—  Tammye Nash

Black Tie Dinner Sneak Peek: Kuchling Award winner, headline entertainer announced

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DVtv went to the Black Tie Dinner Sneak Peek Party on Thursday night, where Brad Pritchett talked to co-chairs Nathan Robbins and Mitzi Lemons about the plans for the 35th annual fundraising dinner, set for Oct. 1, and about Kuchling Award winner Dr. Steven Pounders and singer Deborah Cox.

Read more about Pounders, Cox, and the BTD here. And watch the video below.

—  Tammye Nash

Was Whitney Houston gay?

Yolonda Ross

Editor’s note: This week, the Lifetime TV movie Whitney — directed very ably by Angela Bassett — makes its debut. For a TV biopic, it’s pretty good, though many fans will be disappointed that it doesn’t delve into her life much before or after she met Bobby Brown (it’s really a love story). But Deborah Cox, who dubs the singing of Whitney, does great with the numbers and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

But some folks may wonder what, exactly, was left out, which is what freelancer Mark Dawson asked about when he interviewed Yolonda Ross, who plays Whitney’s (rumored) lesbian lover in the movie.

There’s one thing Yolonda Ross — the actress who plays the role of Whitney Houston’s (rumored) lesbian lover in the upcoming Lifetime movie, which premieres Saturday — knows for sure about Whitney and her gal pal, Robyn: “They were two people that deeply loved, cared for and respected one another,” she says. “Theirs could have been more than a friendship and if so, it’s really unfortunate if others got in the way of it or compromised it.”

Directed by Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston will focus on the singer’s rise to stardom and her stormy relationship with Bobby Brown.

To prepare for the role, Ross feverishly studied Houston and her longtime assistant, Robyn Crawford. According to reports, the two met at 16 during a summer job in East Orange, N.J., and allegedly soon began a romantic relationship. They purportedly broke up when Houston married Brown in 1992.

“Robyn seems to be a straight-up, very grounded person,” Ross says, “somebody who, no matter what the situation, has got your back or is gonna set you straight. She offered security to Whitney and uncompromised companionship.”

The film is the first-ever produced about the life and death of Whitney Houston. Ross predicts it will be a piece of history. “Like The Jackson’s movie, The Temptations and The Five Heartbeats: three movies every black person in America has seen at least once in their life. This will be one of those, but reach an even wider audience due to today’s global media.”

Ross made her feature film debut in 2001’s Stranger Inside. The film earned the actress her first Film Independent Spirit Award nomination, along with the IFP Gotham Award for breakthrough performance.

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Ya Ya DaCosta and Arlen Escarpeta as Whitney and Bobby

She went on to appear in Denzel Washington’s Antwone Fisher, Woody Allen’s Whatever Works, David Mamet’s Phil Spector, HBO’s Treme and the independent film, Yelling To The Sky. In 2014, she starred in John Sayles Go For Sisters, a film that has done what no other has — featured two black women leading a buddy film. This role earned the Omaha native her second Spirit Award nomination (for supporting actress). She has several films slated for 2015 including the indie drama Meadowland with Olivia Wilde and Lila and Eve starring Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis.

“I’ve always been creative,” she says. “I paint, write, sing and play instruments.” However, she never imagined she’d pursue a career in acting. “I have always been painfully shy. Getting in front of people and acting something out was nothing I ever thought I would do.”

That all changed when she moved to New York City and realized she would need extra money to get by.

“I was in school and friends convinced me to try commercials and music videos. The opportunity came to do extra work on Saturday Night Live. It got me my AFTRA card and an agent. I didn’t hear from the agency for a while, but out of the blue, they sent me on an audition for New York Undercover, and I booked it. Months later they called me for another audition. It was for Stranger Inside.”

That HBO film forever changed the course of the young actress’ life.

“I had never taken an acting course,” she says. “But I was blessed with a gift and I have always studied people, and used music to help me create. I just applied that knowledge to scripts.”

When taking on a role, Ross’ objective is to embody a character to its fullest. “I aim to be that person inside and out, from the way they smell to the way they think. I want to know their ticks and personal traits. I want the character to speak through me and to make the viewer feel something,” she explains.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing. Ross describes being a young black woman in Hollywood today as “swimming upstream against the current and sometimes having rocks thrown at you.”

There are multiple hurdles. “Where roles for white actresses are endless, we only get to play limited types of characters,” she says, “and many are side roles that are only given few lines in a movie.”

She also sites lack of support from the black community. “Unless you’re Halle, Angela, Kerry Washington, or Viola now, it’s easy to be overlooked by the community, but social networking does help. Some of us keep ourselves employed by creating our own interesting content, but it takes money, time and people to do all that and not all actors want to do everything.”

Fortunately for Ross, she does.

 

 

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

It’s a busy, busy week, what with people fresh back from the Thanksgiving holiday and organizations trying to rush their activities in before the New Year sneaks up. That’s why you can see any of several Christmas-themed stage plays: DTC’s A Christmas Carol, Theatre Britain’s panto of Mother Goose, MBS Productions’ saucy Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker and WaterTower’s staged reading of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. You can also see the real Nutcracker in Dallas before it moves to Fort Worth, courtesy of Texas Ballet Theater.

If you’re not really in the holiday mood, though, never fear: Friday night get drunk on French wines at the annual Beaujolais Festival: Beaujolais & Beyond, this time in the fresh new Irving Convention Center. It kicks off at 7 p.m. Or stay closer to downtown with Dick’s Night Out at Ku•De•Ta. Museum junkies can go to the Perot Museum — finally — on Saturday, as well as a new exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright at the Arlington Museum of Art. And the Holocaust Museum debuts a collection of 71 private family photos take of Anne Frank by her dad Otto. And you can stop by Ro2Art Gallery on Sunday at 7 p.m. for a farewell meet-the-artist reception for gay collage artist Gary Farrelly. His show continued through Dec. 8.

For the music-minded, Jekyll & Hyde, with club diva Deborah Cox and American Idol‘s Constantine Maroulis, opens at the Winspear. And it’s a concert-heavy week, with Mary Fagan, Patti Larkin, Duncan Sheik and Amy Cook all performing throughout the week. And Willam Belli, my former roommate at a breakout star of RuPaul’s Drag Race, performs at the Rose Room on Sunday.

And there are still some great movies of there, including Skyfall, Argo, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Life of Pi, The Sessions and Lincoln (skip the dreadful Silver Linings Playbook), but one of the best is this week’s new release, Hitchcock.

And finally, Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day. You can make a difference and still have a little indulgence by stopping by Sprinkles Cupcakes on Saturday. Proceeds from the sale of the special red ribbon cupcake will be donated to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Deborah Cox at Station 4 for MetroBall

Well, if you either missed some of the Razzle Dazzle over the weekend, or just want to relive the highlights, videos have already been posted on YouTube from Deborah Cox’s performance. She headlined the MetroBall on Friday at Station 4.The video here is just a front row clip of the show, but this YouTube poster caught a big chunk of the show in three 10-minute videos.

All I can say is lady can sport the hell out of a micro-mini.

—  Rich Lopez