A musical based on the Whitney Houston film "The Bodyguard" is in the works and its leading lady, Broadway actress Heather Headley, says she is ready "to step into those heels" but does not want to be compared to the late singer.
Houston died in February in a Los Angeles hotel at age 48. She was found in a bathtub and her death was ruled an accidental drowning, spurred by cocaine use and a pre-existing heart condition. "The Bodyguard," released in 1992, marked her acting debut. Houston is best known for her cover of its main theme song, "I Will Always Love You," and contributed many other tracks to the soundtrack.
In the film, Houston played Rachel Marron, a pop singer who falls for her bodyguard, played by Kevin Costner, who she had hired to protect her from a stalker. Headley, who originated parts in "The Lion King" and "Aidia," will play Marron in "The Bodyguard" musical," which is set to open in London's West End in several months.
"You don't want people to compare you to Whitney," Headley told BBC News. "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."
"It's going to be the greatest challenge of my life, but I'm ready to step into those heels," she added."
News about the production was revealed around December 2011, before Houston's death. The musical is also set to feature several of her songs that are not included in the movie's soundtrack, such as her 1987 hit "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)", according to its official website.
Headley, 37, is from Trinidad and Tobago. She was the first actress to play Nala in Disney's Broadway musical "The Lion King" when it opened in 1997. In 2000, she originated the title role in the musical "Aida," which earned her a Tony Award. The music for both shows was produced by Elton John and Tim Rice.
In 2009, Headley won a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album for her record "Audience Of One." Houston won six Grammys throughout her career.
Lloyd Owen, a 46-year-old British theater actor, is set to play Costner's part in the new musical, which marks Headley's West End debut. Owen is also known for playing Indiana Jones' father, Henry, in the short-lived 1990s ABC series "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles."