The History of a Musical

Kim Townsend
25th Oct 2016

Paulini is the new Rachel Marron

Way back in the 1960's, Lawrence Kasdan, a young man from West Virginia, graduated with a Masters in Education and set about looking for a job as an English teacher. Jobs were thin on the ground so he found himself a position in an advertising agency and for five years he carved out a successful and award winning copywriting career.

By the mid 70’s the ad game had lost its charm for Kasdan. He needed a change and he began to focus his attention on his passion for writing and, in particular, writing screenplays. He headed to LA and started shopping his material to the Hollywood machine. It was a tough audience and he took a while to convert the studios, but 67 rejections later, the little known writer found himself with a deal.

Warner Brothers bought one of his scripts. The film had the working title of The Bodyguard, the story of a former secret service agent turned bodyguard hired to protect a famous singer from a crazed stalker. Warners were toying with using it as a vehicle for the unlikely pairing of Steve McQueen and Diana Ross. The script hit the “in development” lists and there it stayed - for a very long time.

Meanwhile, screenwriter Lawrence Kasden became internationally acclaimed with credits including Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Big Chill and The Empire Strikes back amongst others.

In the early 90’s, Kevin Costner had starred in a string of films including Dances with Wolves, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and JFK. He was looking for a new project when Kasden happened to tell him about The Bodyguard screenplay that had been languishing in the Warners vaults for years. Costner saw the potential and jumped on the project.

With Costner cast in the role of the bodyguard the next hurdle was to find a singer who could act to play the star. Somebody suggested Madonna as the obvious choice but Costner didn’t agree, a wise decision with the benefit of hindsight! Costner was adamant, the role of Rachel Marron had to be played by Whitney Houston! The movie was a hit and spawned one of the highest selling singles of all time, “I Will Always Love You”.

Fast forward to 2016 and The Bodyguard is still winning accolades. Kasdan’s screenplay has been turned into a hit musical. Already a success on the West End, where it premiered in 2012, producer John Frost is bringing The Bodyguard to Australian where it will open early in 2017.

While the musical revolves around the original story which is essentially a romantic thriller, it also features some of Whitney Houston’s finest songs and casting the lead role was particularly daunting. The search to find someone to fill Houston’s formidable shoes to play Rachel Marron in the UK had been long and arduous. Frost admitted today that the thought of trying to find someone with the right skills in the much smaller Australian market filled him with trepidation.

After a long search, Frost announced this morning that the successful candidate was Sydney singer Paulini. While the announcement was unexpected, Paulini soon made it obvious that she was the right choice. Looking classy and majestic at 10am in the morning is one thing, but managing to pull off a Whitney-esque version of “I Will Always Love You” at that time of day won everyone’s admiration.

So the next chapter in the history of “the best un-made script in Hollywood" begins. As Australia’s Rachel Marron, Paulini will play a major role in writing it. It’s been an eventful story so far and with more cast announcements for The Bodyguard – The Musical to come, one that is by no means over.

The Bodyguard is running at the Sydney Lyric Theatre from April 22nd, 2017. Tickets, starting at $69.90 each, go on sale via Ticketmaster on Monday October 31st. Shot of Paulini by Daniel Boud.