National Philharmonic performs ‘The Bodyguard’ concert at Strathmore

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Bodyguard' at Strathmore (Part 1)

With the exception of Disney’s animated “Aladdin,” no movie put more butts in the seats at the 1992 box office than “The Bodyguard,” providing a vehicle for Whitney Houston’s voice.

This Friday, the National Philharmonic performs “The Bodyguard” in concert at Strathmore.

“The real premise is a celebration of Whitney Houston and her incredible career as highlighted in that movie,” Principal Pops Conductor Luke Frazier told WTOP. “That’s what most people remember most about that movie … this concert with the music that touches so many different generations … it’s probably going to feel like one big party.”

Initially written in the 1970s for Diana Ross and Steve McQueen, the film was recast to star Houston and Kevin Costner in the story of a former Secret Service agent, who becomes the personal bodyguard of a superstar actress and singer, only to fall in love.

“There are many orchestras that do films and they play the score live, but the problem for me is the conductor puts in an ear piece like a robot to conduct along with the movie and there’s not that real-time interaction,” Frazier said. “What makes this so special is we’ve extracted the music from the movie and some of the music from the hit musical.”

Houston’s soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1994. The hit singles “I Have Nothing” and “Run to You” were Oscar nominees for Best Original Song, while Houston’s cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” spent a record-breaking 14 weeks at No. 1, ranking among the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Movie Songs.

“This is a song that really transcended genre,” Frazier said. “You’ve got country fans that know and love Dolly’s version, then you’ve got a lot of other fans that know and love Whitney’s version … harmonically, it’s a great song. The lyrics are fantastic.”

These beloved songs will be performed by a special group of guest talents.

“We are so lucky to have the incredible Deborah Cox … a fabulous singer and incredible stage presence,” Frazier said. “We’ve also got from ‘The Voice,’ a DMV native Rayshun LaMarr, the epitome of Mr. Entertainment … we are so honored to have an incredible group of local dancers and we’ve got students from Howard University singing backup.”

In addition to Houston’s songs, you’ll hear the instrumental score by Alain Silvestri, best known for “Back to the Future,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “Forrest Gump.”

“One of the pieces that I’m very excited to share, which is not often highlighted from that album, is actually the theme from ‘The Bodyguard,'” Frazier said. “It is such a beautiful and clearly classically-inspired piece of music. It’s so, so luscious … we’re also going to … throw in some curveballs with orchestral versions that have never been heard before.”

It will all be played by about 40 members of the National Philharmonic.

“They really paved the way for Montgomery Country throughout the pandemic,” Frazier said. “They never stopped performing, they did so many concerts, they kept paying their musicians and had a commitment to the community (with) extensive educational outreach, which should be the backbone of any modern orchestra.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Bodyguard' at Strathmore (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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