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#UPFRONT w/Monique Greenwood, DeVaughn Nixon, Miss Robbie & Lil Charles (AUDIO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out today’s holiday edition of #UPFRONT Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry. My special guests included Monique Greenwood, star of OWN’s new docu series CHECKED INN. The Bed and Breakfast guru was in the studio to chat about her journey and why this series is unlike anything you’ve seen before on television.

Restaurateurs and stars of OWN’s award-winning docu series, Welcome to Sweetie Pies, Miss Robbie and Lil Charles also stopped by the studio to chat about tonight’s season premiere and much more.

#UPFRONT also recognizes the 25th Anniversary of the classic movie, The Bodyguard by talking exclusively to former child star DeVaughn Nixon.  The 30-something year old actor is all grown up now and recalls his time on set with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. He also talked about his newest TV project, Marvel’s Runways, which debuted this week.  We also played music from The Bodyguard throughout the show along with tributes to iconic entertainers—Earle Hyman and Della Reese, who recently passed away.


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‘The Bodyguard’ is for true Whitney Houston fans (REVIEW)

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

I had the pleasure of attending “The Bodyguard the Musical” Wednesday night at Atlanta’s Fabulous Fox Theater and I must say this is a show for “die-hard” Whitney Houston fans. The 120-minute spectacle is musical tapestry of hit after glorious hit and a befitting tribute to Houston’s legacy as a pop music phenom. The film, whether you were a fan or not, made an international movie star out of the Newark, New Jersey singer and spawned the biggest selling single by a woman in human history, “I Will Always Love You.”

Much like the 1992 film, the musical follows the life of internationally known pop star and actress, Rachel Marron, whose management hires a handsome bodyguard, Frank Farmer, to protect her from an unknown stalker. Marron and Farmer become more than just colleagues and a romance ensues that makes it hard for him to protect her. The story was originally written in the mid-70s for noted film actor Steve McQueen and Motown star Diana Ross but was shelved until 1992.

The role of Marron is portrayed by Grammy nominated vocalist and Canadian beauty Deborah Cox.  Like Houston, Cox is star in her own right and can relate to the complicated life of being a public figure. Vocally, she is a “beast” and really shines throughout the 16 musical numbers that appear in the show. From the high energy opener, “Queen of the Night” (my favorite part of the show) to the heartfelt “Greatest Love of All” to the spellbinding “One Moment in Time,” Cox delivers with enough authority and ease that you almost believe these songs could have been written for her as they were for Houston. But Cox’s performance is not without flaws. There are a few scenes in the beginning where I didn’t believe her and wasn’t quite sure whether it was her fault or the pace at which the show runs. Don’t blink because it moves as swiftly as the tightly choreographed dance numbers.

Judson Mills as Frank Farmer could use a little work too. I didn’t feel like I really got to “see” Farmer until the romance bloomed between him and Marron. There were also times that I felt Mills was a bit stiff and I wasn’t able to connect with him as I did with Kevin Costner in the film version. I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed “the karaoke” scene where he attempts to sing “I Will Always Love You.” It’s a great addition to the story and the audience eats it up.

The role of Nicki Marron, Rachel’s jealous hearted sister, is expanded and features the dynamic talents of Jasmin Richardson. Much like the character in the film, she is a bitter sibling living in the shadows of her famous sister, who feels overlooked. Nicki also falls for Farmer’s charming ways and finds herself in another competition with her sister. Vocally, Richardson is just as talented as the show’s star and steps into the role of Rachel when Cox is not performing.

Another role that is expanded in the show is that of Marron’s son, Fletcher, who is played by the amazingly talented Douglas Baldeo and Kevelin B. Jones III. In the film, he was seen sporadically but this time he plays an integral part of the story. We also see him develop this father-son like bond with Farmer that we didn’t see in the film.

As previously mentioned, the show features over 16 of Houston’s songs including a huge chunk of her early hits like “So Emotional,” “How Will I Know” and “All at Once.” It also includes her show-stopping ballads like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” “Run to You,” and “I Have Nothing,” and almost serves as a character in itself. Again, Cox moves through these lyrics and melodies with grace and had plenty of time to make them her own since she was the music voice of Houston in the 2015 controversial Lifetime biopic.

In closing, “The Bodyguard The Musical,” will keep fans entertained with lots of dazzling costumes, wigs, outstanding vocal talent and over-the-top dance numbers. Most of all it will be a gentle reminder why Houston will forever be known as  “The Voice.”

“The Bodyguard the Musical” plays tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Click here for tickets!

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RC Exclusive - Music

First Look Pics of Deborah Cox in ‘The Bodyguard’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out a few first look photos of music superstar Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron in “The Bodyguard.” The Grammy nominated performer is starring in a new North American tour of the musical that is currently previewing at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. The tour officially kicks January 10, 2017 in Minneapolis, MN.


“The Bodyguard,” is based on the classic 1992 romantic thriller starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. It follows Frank Farmer, a former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, who is hired to protect music superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love.


The show features a variety of hit songs from the movie including “Queen of the Night,” “I Have Nothing,” and “Run to You” as well as a number of Houston hits like “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Saving All My Love,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – “I Will Always Love You.”


This is not the first time Cox has performed these songs. She was the singing voice for Lifetime’s 2015 Whitney Houston biopic, “WHITNEY!” Take a look at this behind-the-scenes video of her in the studio.

Dates and cities for “The Bodyguard” are below:

Nov 25, 2016 – Jan 1, 2017 Paper Mill Playhouse, Milburn, NJ

Jan 10 – 15, 2017 Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

Jan 17 – 22, 2017 Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, WI

Jan 24 – 29, 2017 Orpheum Theatre, Memphis, TN

Jan 31 – Feb 12, 2017 Oriental Theatre, Chicago, IL

Feb 14 – 19, 2017 Ohio Theatre, Columbus, OH

Feb 21 – 26, 2017 Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA

Feb 28 – Mar 5, 2017 Hippodrome Theatre, Baltimore, MD

Mar 7 – 12, 2017 Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte, NC

Mar 14 – 19, 2017 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham, NC

Mar 21 – 26, 2017 Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nashville, TN

Mar 28 – Apr 2, 2017 Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA

Apr 4 – 9, 2017 Saenger Theatre, New Orleans, LA

Apr 12 – 16, 2017 Centennial Hall, Tucson, AZ

Apr 18 – 23, 2017 Community Center Theatre, Sacramento, CA

Apr 25 – 30, 2017 San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, San Jose

May 2 – 21, 2017 Hollywood Pantages, Los Angeles, CA

May 30 – Jun 11, 2017 Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, CA

Jun 13 – 18, 2017 Civic Theatre, San Diego, CA

Aug 15 – 20, 2017 Hobby Center, Houston, TX

Click here to purchase your tickets!

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RC Exclusive - Music

New ‘Whitney Houston Documentary’ in the Works!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Oscar winning-director Kevin MacDonald wants to show the world another side of the late pop music icon—Whitney Houston. The filmmaker has been given authorization by Houston’s estate to do a new revealing documentary on her life and her music that defined a generation.

According to VARIETY, the project will follow “Nippy” (her nickname) from a child singing in the church choir to her teenage years as fashion model to her meteoric rise to superstardom as a Grammy winning-entertainer. It will also examine the inner demons she dealt with and the issues that ultimately led to her death in February of 2012.

“We have access to never-before-seen footage of Whitney that charts her whole life from her beginnings singing in her Church’s gospel choir to the day of her tragic death at the age of 48, and three decades of her music including exclusive demo recordings, rare performances and audio archive. Although we won’t shy away from the darker parts of Whitney’s life — her descent into addiction — I want audiences to walk out of the cinema and feel positive about Whitney and her music. I want to reveal a woman that even her most die-hard fans never knew; and a woman those new to her life and music will never forget,” said MacDonald in a statement.

Houston is without a doubt one of the most iconic voices of the last century. She sold million of records during her career and starred in such films as “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting to Exhale.”  To fans around the world she was known as “The Voice,” and inspired many other music divas such as Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Brandy and Beyoncé.

RC will keep you posted as this project continues to develop.

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Heather Headley joins ‘The Color Purple Musical’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

It’s been 16 years since Heather Headley graced the Broadway stage in “Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida.” Now the Tony winning-actress and Grammy winning-singer returns as sassy and sexy Shug Avery in “The Color Purple.”

According to a recent press release, Headley will begin performances on Tuesday, May 10. The show’s current actress, Jennifer Hudson, will take her final bow on Sunday, May 8 after a hugely successful six month run. While I was not able to see her in action, I heard Jennifer was killin ’em every night with her powerhouse vocals and alluring appeal.

“These last six months have been nothing short of a dream come true. I have found an extended family in the cast of The Color Purple that will go far beyond my commitment on-stage,” said Jennifer Hudson. “I owe so much to the Broadway community and our audiences. My heart is full as I say to Broadway, ‘until we meet again.’”

Headley is as equally as excited to be joining the show which is based on Alice Walker‘s award winning book of the same name.

“I was privileged to see John Doyle’s production of THE COLOR PURPLE and was completely moved and bowled over by his beautiful work and this brilliant company,” said Ms. Headley. “I am humbled to be joining this immensely talented group of actors. I can’t think of a better way to return to the Broadway stage than in this extraordinary show, helping to tell Alice Walker’s story.”

Headley is best known for her roles as Nala in the original Broadway cast of “The Lion King” and as the Nubian princess in “Aida.” She most recently starred as Rachel Marron in the West End production of “The Bodyguard.”

Stay tuned…

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Heather Headley dishes about ‘The Bodyguard: A New Musical’

Posted by | RayCornelius

Heather Headley wants everyone to know that she is no Whitney Houston! But the Tony Award-winning singer-actress is ready for the challenge as the lead in the new stage version of the film The Bodyguard.

Headley will step into role of Rachel Marron, a pop star who falls in love with the bodyguard she has hired to protect her from a stalker. The original role was played by the late Whitney Houston and was her first major film.

Headley spoke recently to the BBC  about the show and what she considers the “greatest challenge of her life.”  She is also hoping that audiences will not compare her performance to that of the late Whitney Houston.

“I didn’t want it before and especially not now after her passing. I want people to come in and say this is Heather’s version – this is Heather playing Rachel Marron and singing Whitney songs. I am always trying to find a way to make them my own but still acknowledge and keep the integrity of her music.”

The Bodyguard  premiered in 1992 and also starred Kevin Costner as the bodyguard, Frank Farmer. The movie soundtrack produced a number of hits for Houston including “I Have Nothing,” “I’m Every Woman” and probably her greatest known song, “I Will Always Love You” originally written by country music diva, Dolly Parton.

The musical will also feature these songs as well as few of Houston’s other hits records like “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “So Emotional.”

Headley, who is no stranger to the musical stage, is best known for her role as Nala in Disney’s The Lion King  and for her Tony winning performance in Elton John and Time Rice’s Aida.

According to the show’s website, “The Bodyguard: A New Musical” is set to premiere in London’s West End in the autumn.

Check out this promotional video of Heather Headley singing Houston’s hit song, So Emotional:

[youtube id=”DGfNvA2Eh1A” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Trivia: Which music legend was originally supposed to play the lead in “The Bodyguard” back in the late 70’s? 

Answer:  Diana Ross