Deborah Cox Is Ready to Fill Whitney Houston’s Shoes in The Bodyguard Musical: “Her Legacy Deserves It”

If anyone can represent the voice, it’s vocal powerhouse Deborah Cox.

Cox will play the role of Rachel Marron (who is linked to late music icon Whitney Houston in “The Bodyguard”) in the upcoming Paper Mill Playhouse North American musical.

A veteran on Broadway, Cox knows it will be a hard shoe to fill, but she’s up for the challenge.

“I think what is the most challenging is making my Rachel my own and departing from the way that I’ve heard these songs sung by the greatest voice of all time,” Cox told App during the rehearsal process. “We’re so familiar with all of these iconic songs, that to hear them infused in the piece makes it challenging. That has been the thing for me that I’ve been working through in these rehearsals is really finding her voice because Whitney Houston really made all of these songs so iconic.”

The Grammy-nominated Cox, who has one of the longest-running No. 1 R&B singles with “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here,” which topped the charts for 14 consecutive weeks, had her first experience with “The Bodyguard” in the early 90s.

“I saw ‘The Bodyguard’ back before I moved to LA. I was still getting my own demo tape together; I was doing background (vocals) for Celine Dion, I was gigging and doing live shows. I remember hearing that soundtrack and seeing the movie and I was just mesmerized.”

The pressure will be high for Cox, who will have to be unique while honoring Houston’s legacy. She sings 13 songs in the show.

“I want to make sure that (Houston is) represented right,” she said. “I know what the expectations are, I’m fully aware of that. And that’s pretty much what I’m going in there to do – give it my all. Really make this show a huge success because the show deserves it. She deserves it. Her legacy deserves it. We’ll all be better for it.”

She continued: “It’s a lot of material, but every beat works. These songs come out of emotional moments that make sense.”

‘The Bodyguard’ musical runs from Nov. 25 to Jan. 1 at Paper Mill.

Gary Gentles

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