MMT Quick Chat with THE BODYGUARD: THE MUSICAL’s Jasmin Richardson

The Bodyguard February 21-26 Academy of Music Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
The Bodyguard, February 21-26, Academy of Music Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Whether you are a lover of the film The Bodyguard, or in the camp that brushed it off as a cheesy love story, there’s one thing on which most people agree – the soundtrack was, and is, magnificent. So, it’s no wonder that a musical adaptation, since its 2012 opening, has taken stages across the world by storm, and will make its début tonight in Philadelphia at the Academy of Music.

With an energetically talented cast, led by the multi-platinum selling artist Deborah Cox in the lead role of Rachel Marron, made famous by the legendary Whitney Houston, and a book by Alexander Dinelaris adapted from Lawrence Kasdan’s screenplay, The Bodyguard: The Musical incorporates the Grammy award-winning soundtrack along with songs from Houston’s discography – including “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “So Emotional,” and “One Moment in Time.”

Also a part of this production is Jasmin Richardson, who takes on the role of Rachel’s sister Nicki Marron. No stranger to the theater stage, Ms. Richardson has been in the National/ International tours of Memphis (Felicia) and Dreamgirls (Deena). She’s also recognizable from her media campaign with Clinique Cosmetics.

MMT asked Ms. Richardson a few questions, including her reflections on the late Ms. Houston, working with Ms. Cox and what theater goers can expect from the musical version of the story.

February 11th marked the fifth anniversary of Whitney Houston’s passing and The Bodyguard is one of her most highlighted works. What are your reflections of Ms. Houston and her in the landmark role of Rachel Marron?

Whitney Houston is one of a kind and can never be replaced. Her voice is timeless. She was sexy, classy and very out spoken; she was the ultimate superstar.

Were you a fan of Ms. Houston’s prior to he being cast in the musical, and do you have any favorite Houston songs (to sing or listen)?

I learned how to tell a song through listening to Whitney’s music. The way she nuances a song was dynamic and her vocal ability is unmatched. She was known as the “The Voice” –  it doesn’t get any bigger than that.

For those who’ve yet to see the show, what differences from the movie should they expect?

It really is a romantic thriller, so that cinematic element is woven into the script. My character Nicki has more of an arc (than the film), and you get to know her a bit better in our show. We also have additional songs intertwined into the story, not just the ones from The Bodyguard soundtrack.

What has been your favorite fan/audience member reaction to this production so far?

We opened in Jersey and it was nice to have a lot of hometown fans come and give us their stamp of approval. That was a wonderful way to start the tour.

Were you a fan of Ms. Cox prior to the musical and what is it like working with her on set?

Absolutely! She’s a beautiful person inside and out, and she has truly set the tone for our tour. She is a singing masterclass every night on stage, and amazing to work with.

MMT signature question: If you could portray any artist (any medium) past or present, who would it be and why?

Maya Angelou because she was a light on this earth. She had a beautiful way with words, especially when it came to addressing the plight of the black woman and her inner strength.

Speaking of the plight of the black woman, and in the spirit of #BlackGirlMagic, please share one piece of advice to young girls/aspiring artists coming to see musical?

Commitment to your craft and consistency are key. You have everything it takes to succeed. Work hard and trust yourself. Anything is possible!

The Bodyguard: The Musical runs February 21-26. Tickets and information are available at kimmelcenter.org.

 

 

GIVEAWAY: THE BODYGUARD THE MUSICAL on Broadway Philadelphia February 21-26

THE BODYGUARD THE MUSICAL

And what would a Valentine’s Day be without including a love story contest?! MMT is excited to giveaway tickets to THE BODYGUARD the musical starring Deborah Cox! The show makes its Philly début next week, February 21-26, at the Academy of Music and we’re giving away passes for Wednesday night.

Adapted from the film which starred the late Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, the musical follows former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, who is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love. A breathtakingly romantic thriller, The Bodyguard features a host of irresistible classics from the film, as well as Ms. Houston’s repertoire, including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, Run to You, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – I Will Always Love You.

To try your luck at winning, you must be a subscriber of this website (and remember following MMT on Facebook always increases your chances) and send an email that includes your full name and a short message, telling us about your Valentine and why they deserve a night out, to contests@musicmoviesthoughts.com. One subscriber will be selected and notified on Saturday, February 18.

You can get a glimpse of the show in the preview below and purchase tickets for the show at kimmelcenter.org or click here.

Good luck!

 

GIVEAWAY WINNERS ANNOUNCED – For “Sparkle” Wednesday, August 15th (Phila, PA)

And the winners are: Carla Wallace, Tanya Covington, Shlonda Jones, Tamara Holland, and Nakia Stokes!

For those who didn’t win, I pray you still go check out the movie opening weekend (August 17th -19th).  You can find out more about the film Sparkle and view the trailer at the official website (see link below).

Until next thought family, Thomasena

http://www.sparkle-movie.com/site/

GIVEAWAY – Win Passes to Screen “Sparkle” Wednesday August 15th (Philly, PA).

GIVEAWAY – Win Passes to Screen “Sparkle” Wednesday August 15th (Philly, PA)

Photo 1

What’s new Music Movie Lovers!  I am very excited to announce that MusicMoviesThoughts has partnered with Allied-THA to offer you a chance to win a pair of passes to see Sony Pictures Sparkle starring Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, and Derek Luke.  The film also stars the very talented Mike Epps, and features Tika Sumpter, Carmen Ojogo, Omari Hardwick and Cee-Lo Green.  For a chance to win, make sure you’ve signed up to follow this blog (and look for the confirmation email to complete the sign up process).  You can increase your chances by also following me on Twitter @ledfarr.  I will randomly select and post names of winners on Friday, August 10th to receive passes to attend the Philadelphia (PA) screening on Wednesday August 15th.

I will post a review after the movie’s national release date (August 17th); but those who follow me know that the original 1976 version of Sparkle is my ALL TIME favorite movie, so you can check out my initial thoughts (from last October) about the remake at this link Sparkle Remake Ready To Start Production. You can also check out the official website for a synopsis and to view the new movie trailer at http://www.sparkle-movie.com/site/.  Good luck family! 🙂

Until next thought, Thomasena

Sparkle Singing Challenge Comes to Philly, PA (Saturday, July 14th)

Hey Music Movie Lovers!

Are you anticipating the release of the Sparkle remake like me?  Do you live in the Philly, PA tri-state area and like to sing?  If you answered yes to both, or at least to the second question and are curious about the new Sparkle movie, read on below for a chance to win a spot on BET’s 106 & Park plus additional prizes.  And make sure to be on the lookout in August for a special movie screening opp!

Good luck and stop back by and leave a thought if you audition!

Until next thought, Thomasena

SPARKLE Singing Challenge

The SPARKLE Singing Challenge is a nationwide challenge and will be held in Philadelphia on Saturday, July 14th at the Cheltenham Mall.  Registration begins at 12pm and the competition begins at 2pm.  Entrants will receive the opportunity to sing a 60 second part from the songs “Celebration” or “Something He Can Feel,” from the late Whitney Houston’s upcoming film, SPARKLE.  Please click on attached flyer below to enlarge for more information.

Entrants will be competing for a $500 cash prize, along with a $25 BEBE gift card, and a chance to win the Grand Prize.  The Grand Prize winner will win a trip for 2 to New York City to professionally record a song with the Punch Monkeys producer & writing team, a Myspace homepage feature and a chance to appear on BET’s very own, 106 & Park! Head to www.myspace.com/Sparkle for official contest rules and 60 second clips of both competition songs.   To pre-register, entrants can email SparkleSingingChallengePhilly@gmail.com.

The official trailer for the film can be viewed here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBXGhbpMMrw

The Voice Silenced – Whitney Houston (1963 – 2012)

For weeks I have been making references to this year’s Grammy award show.  Never could I have imagined that many would be tuning in this evening to pay collective homage to one of the greatest singers of our time – the one, the only, THE VOICE, Ms. Whitney Houston, who passed away yesterday at age 48.  Like other people to whom I’ve spoken, I am still in shock from the news of her untimely passing.  I literally watched CNN for hours last night, trying to make sense of it all by listening to the video tributes, the breaking reports, and remarks from colleagues and friends.  But none of it helped to settle the unease I was feeling.

That unease, very much like if not equal to that which I’d felt when Michael Jackson passed, comes from losing yet another music legend I’ve adored since I was a child.  You see, there is a Whitney song I can reference for mostly every major period in my life.  And though I’ve never met, or even seen Whitney Houston live in concert, her music and voice are so comfortably familiar it is quite hard to imagine a life without her.  Even more disheartening, I was anxiously awaiting the première of the Sparkle remake,  which I anticipated to be a huge vehicle for her return to film; and if early reports of Whitney’s phenomenal performance are accurate it most certainly would have been.  And speaking of film, Terry McMillan can just stop the press as far as bringing Getting to Happy, the sequel to Waiting to Exhale, to the big screen.  I mean, how can we accept anyone else but Whitney Houston returning as Savannah?

Ken Erlich, Grammy’s executive producer, reported to CNN last night that Jennifer Hudson would be performing the tribute to Whitney Houston on tonight’s show.  Like many of her contemporaries, Jennifer cites Whitney as one of her biggest influences and I remember how excited she was when Whitney presented her with the Grammy back in 2009.  I’ve also read that Chaka Khan will be doing a tribute, but am not certain how accurate those reports are.  It would make sense that Chaka Khan would be allowed to do so, considering Whitney sang backup for her as a teen and paid tribute to Chaka at the end of her cover of I’m Every Woman.

I cannot even begin to touch all that Whitney Houston accomplished in this post and do it fair justice.  I really cannot believe that I am writing this about her at all.  My prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to the Houston family, especially to her daughter and mother.  I share the You Tube link below for Whitney’s My Love is Your Love video in which she boldly sings “if I should die this very day, don’t cry, ’cause on earth we wasn’t meant to stay. And no matter what the people say, I’ll be waiting for you after the Judgement Day.”  I will miss you Ms. Houston.  Rest in Peace.

Until next thought family, Thomasena.

My Love is Your Love (Whitney Houston, 1998 Arista): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxZD0VQvfqU&ob=av2e

Does Remake = Lack of Creativity?

So, since last post I’ve been thinking about how remake crazy our culture appears to be.  I’ve had this conversation with friends and other creative folks, and often I hear someone make the statement that “we’ve just run out of original ideas.”  Is it that simple an explanation?  And is it a bad thing to remake a movie or cover a song if you can add something relevant to, invigorate, or dare I say improve the original?  I would answer with a resounding NO and I would like to share some of my faves to support.  Since this is such a broad topic, I’ve decided to focus on music in the key of Motown, and share a few examples of what I think are perfect song covers (I’ll touch on movies in another post :)).

I will start with the Heavyweight of Soul himself, Mr. Luther Vandross.   Luther was a master at taking decades old songs, re-arranging them and turning them into instant classics.  Who can forget his version of the Temptations hit Since I Lost My Baby? Luther made the melancholy song sound so sweet, and sang it so beautifully, I forgot how sad the lyrics were.  On to the next Motown cover, have you ever heard Chaka Khan’s version of the J5’s Got To Be There?  Like Chaka’s voice it really is beyond accurate description, so just take a listen below and let me know what you think. Sidebar: speaking of Chaka Khan, did you see the film Standing in the Shadows of Motown and hear her cover of What’s Going On with the Funk Brothers?  Again, take a listen with the link below because it’s so (add your own word here) I won’t even try to describe.

I once heard Tony Bennett say that Stevie’s version of his song For Once In My Life was the best cover he’d ever heard.  I mean Stevie took an old slow tempo standard and revamped into a funky R&B hit complete with harmonica solo.  Another sidebar: Stevie also took a mid-tempo tune he’d written as a teen for the late Tammi Terrell, All I Do Is Think About You, and updated it as the upbeat All I Do (with Michael Jackson, Eddie Levert, Walter Williams and Betty Wright all contributing background vocals) on his Hotter Than July LP.  Yep, that’s right I said MJ. Take another listen you’ll catch it :).  See below for a link to the once rare Tammi Terrell version.

Lastly, I can’t mention Motown covers and not talk about Philly’s own Boyz II Men and their version of It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday.  Boyz II Men successfully took a very nostalgic song, and anyone who’s seen the movie Cooley High knows what I mean, and made it their own.  And talk about invigorating, with their a cappella remake the song peaked at #1 and #2 on the Billboard Hot R&B singles and Hot 100 charts respectively (compared to peaking at #38 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart when originally released).

What are some of your fave remakes?  I know I stuck to a specific period and genre, but are there more recent covers that you consider classics? Share your comments and let’s discuss.  Until next thought, Thomasena.

Chaka Khan  Got To Be There (Chaka Khan, 1982 Warner Bros.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6PCKxcxTss&feature=related

The Funk Brothers featuring Chaka Khan What’s Going On (Standing in the Shadows of Motown, 2002 Artisan Entertainment) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA1sO3YZRhk&feature=related

Tammi Terrell  All I Do Is Think About You  (A Cellarful of Motown, 2002 Motown): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqbvX_sYoN0