Although the musical version of The Bodyguard was in the works long before Whitney Houston’s death in February, the singer’s tragic departure was almost enough for the show’s leading lady Heather Headley to drop out of the project, reports The Daily Mail.
Headley had agreed to do the show before Houston died, but following her passing, Headley said, “I asked my people to get me out of it. I didn’t want people to think I was copying her or taking advantage of her.”
It took her husband’s family to convince Headley to continue on with the project, with much thanks owed to producer David Ian, who first had the idea to even approach Headley about starring in the musical. Headley had essentially stopped doing big-budget musicals like Aida (which won her a Tony Award) and The Lion King in favor of spending time with her husband and son in Chicago. “People told me she wouldn’t do it,” Ian recalled. “That was before she was asked.”
With Headley in place, the musical is just a month away from its first preview, with opening night set for December 5 at London’s Adelphi Theatre. “It’s starting to cook nicely, isn’t it?” teased Ian.
Director Thea Sharrock has transplanted the show from the early 1990s to the modern day, with Headley’s role—a music superstar who falls for her bodyguard—shaping up to be a combination of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Madonna. The music will include re-orchestrated renditions of Houston’s catalog of classics, including songs like “Queen of the Night,” “Saving All My Love,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “I Will Always Love You.”
“It’s not Whitney’s song anymore,” said Sharrock as Headley sang “Run To You” during a recent rehearsal. Turning to Headley, Sharrock shouted, “It’s yours!”
Watch Headley tackle another iconic Whitney ballad below.