Broadway Grand Rapids has had some incredible shows this year, and next up is "The Bodyguard" playing at DeVos Performance Hall now through March 11.
Todd got to go behind the scenes and talk with Deborah Cox, starring as Rachel Marron, and Judson Mills, who plays bodyguard Frank Farmer, about their time on stage.
"The Bodyguard" is based on the 1992 film starring Kevin Kosner and Whitney Houston. For those unfamiliar with the movie, it's about superstar Rachel Marron having to hire a former CIA agent as a bodyguard to protect her while she's on tour because she is being stalked. However as time passes the two fall in love, but also have to figure out how to co-exist and work together in their different worlds.
"Our characters butt heads, they're both very alpha so we struggle to try and figure out how to co-exist and work together, but ultimately our respect for one another is what makes them romantically grow," Mills said. "To see her devotion, her strength for her fans despite the danger, she's willing to show up and give the fans what she thinks they want. As someone who is profoundly proficient and is devoted in my [character's] career in my own way, I respect that. Also to some degree, the same things happens, she sees what I'm doing so I think that's where the love story comes in."
Of course with a production as big as "The Bodyguard," there are going to be some hurdles.
"I knew it was going to be a big challenge, I knew I had some big shoes to fill," Cox said. "I just stopped listening to everything, I read the script for what it was and just went from there.. That helped me a lot because it helped me find my own way of telling the story that people know and love; that helped me develop my own character of Rachel Marron."
"I think it's important as an artist to be as authentic as possible, it helps to tell the story and makes people feel like they're the fly on the wall," Cox said.
Mills said that he and Cox were lucky to have great chemistry to achieve such a great presence on stage. "We literally met the first day of rehearsals. Just imagine if we didn't get along, but luckily we hit it off right away, we had a really strong attraction for each other's spirits and respect as artists we really connected. We really appreciate each other's family, devotion to family, and work ethic in general, so it worked really well."
When it comes to "The Bodyguard," both lead actors agree that putting together a production of this scale takes a lot of dedication and discipline. They never forget to praise each other for the roles they are playing, and how hard they work to put on such an inspiring performance.
"[Deborah's] in the position she's in because she works her butt off. It's been a joy to watch her take on this challenge and just fight to keep her voice healthy," Mills said. "To keep her voice healthy and be able to do this music and glorify it as it should be. You don't arrive at this place in your artistry and career without a lot of hard work."
"I think the hardest work in this show is what Judson has to do every night," Cox said, "which is be extremely stoic and focused, have presence and charisma with each other. We don't have a whole lot of scenes together, but there's really an art to having a presence on stage without saying a lot."
Cox says that she wants every person that attends a show to feel inspired, and leave with a feeling of positivity.
"I call it the most bang for your buck show out there, you get a little bit of everything: romance, action, singing, some comedy too," Mills said.
To purchase tickets, visit broadwaygrandrapids.com.