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Saturday, April 1, 2023

“The Bodyguard”: she is the Quebec Whitney Houston!


The musical The Bodyguard unveiled its cast on Tuesday. According to director Joël Legendre, it was not easy to find the performer who would play the main female role in this production. But that’s it, we finally know the name of Quebec’s Whitney Houston, Jennifer-Lee Dupuy!

30-year-old Jennifer-Lee Dupuy was born the same year as the release of The Bodyguard. If she interprets the main role of Rachel Marron immortalized by Whitney Houston in 1992, it will be the actor Frédérick De Grandpré (District 31, The Negotiator) who will slip into the role of Frank Farmer, originally played by Kevin Costner.

Former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer is hired by impresario Bill Devaney to protect his client Rachel Marron, a rising singer, threatened by an unknown admirer.

Little known until now – she made a brief stint at Star Académie in 2020 – Jennifer-Lee Dupuy works in the field of construction and she has no experience as an actress, which was also the case with Whitney Houston when filming The Bodyguard, notes Joël Legendre. On the other hand, she is a singer and the director was charmed by her voice during the auditions.

“I was looking for someone who looked like Whitney Houston, because in our imagination, we forgot that she is Rachel Marron, mentions Joël Legendre in an interview with Métro. It took someone who physically had the features of Whitney Houston and who sings like her.

Even if, at the base, the scenario does not require that Rachel be interpreted by a black woman, Joël Legendre would have refused to take a white actress, so much the role sticks to the skin of Whitney Houston.

“I respected the cast of the film. His manager in the feature film is a black man, so I thought of Widemir Normil. I wanted to reproduce the film as exactly as possible”, he specifies.

We Will Always Love Whitney

According to the director, Jennifer-Lee Dupuy has the aura of Whitney Houston, but the main interested party hesitated when she proposed her candidacy for the role.

“At first, I was not aware that there were auditions, tells Métro Jennifer-Lee Dupuy. I was contacted by someone from production. The first thing that came to mind was that I had never done any acting, I had never played a role.

So despite her singing talents, Jennifer-Lee-Dupuy feared it was a problem, to the point where in the process she felt a certain “giddiness”, telling herself that with all the responsibilities she already had, she couldn’t do it.

“Finally, I thought to myself: if I don’t go and try, I won’t know what will come of it.”

Like Whitney Houston, Jennifer-Lee Dupuy comes from a gospel background, which allows her to identify with the diva’s journey. Still, is she nervous to put herself in the shoes of such a star?

“I don’t feel any pressure, because everyone knows nobody sings like Whitney Houston in the whole world. Each person who sings has a unique voice, so I will be inspired by their voice and I will be able to bring my vocal baggage.

It will not only be the songs that are present in the film that will be performed in the musical. Part of Whitney Houston’s repertoire is included, which allowed Jennifer-Lee-Dupuy to discover new pieces. Her favorites?

“The song All The Man That I Need, which I discovered because of the production and fell in love with. Otherwise, I really like One Moment In Time. It’s very difficult, but it’s such a beautiful and great song.

In addition to adapting the text in French, Joël Legendre took the liberty of eliminating a few clichés.

“In the film at the beginning, Rachel Marron was very star, very wicked, and that, I find that it passes less today.”

Otherwise, the director sought to accentuate the paternal side of the character of Frank Farmer.

The star couple, Frédérick De Grandpré and Jennifer-Lee Dupuy. Photo: JF Galipeau


As Frédérick De Grandpré does martial arts in real life, he offered Joël Legendre to do stunts on stage.

“If we base ourselves on the film, there are still some good action and fight scenes, recalls the actor. It brings the slightly more credible side of the bodyguard. The guy is able to defend someone; he has the necessary skills to do so. So there will be something for everyone: songs, but also action.

This is the third time that Frédérick de Grandpré has collaborated on a musical, which allows him to combine two of his passions, even if he admits to singing very little in The Bodyguard.

“When done well, musicals are great entertainment. We always have a great evening.”

The character of Frank Farmer was originally played by Kevin Costner, an icon of masculinity in the United States who followed in the footsteps of Clint Eastwood. Thus, like the mythical figure of the cowboy, the bodyguard in this work presents a certain vulnerability, explains Frédérick De Grandpré, who was 20 when the film was released.

“I’ve always liked films where the hero presents a vulnerable side, a human side and where he has to fight his fear. That’s really what I’m trying to do with my Frank Farmer.”

The Bodyguard will be presented at the St-Denis Theater from March 30 to April 15 then at the Capitole theater in Quebec from June 28 to August 6.

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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