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Flint youth makes theater splash in "The Bodyguard"

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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Kevelin Bristwo Jones III is well aware that his theater career has started at the top.

The 12-year-old from Flint plays Fletcher, the son of singer Rachel Marron in the touring company for the stage adaptation of the hit 1992 Whitney Houston film “The Bodyguard.”

Jones has been with the company since the fall of 2016. It’s the sixth-grader’s first professional show, but he does not take this big-time start for granted.

“I just like being able to sing, be on stage, performing with people watching me and showing them what kind of talent I have in me and just having fun while doing my job and portraying the character,” Jones said by phone from Flint during a recent holiday break.

“I’ve grown a lot. My voice has changed — not, like, getting deeper but having a lot more skills, and my acting is getting much better. Basically I’m growing with my acting and singing.”

The middle of three children, Jones — whose father is principal of Doyle-Rider Elementary School in Flint and mother, Tanisha, is an entrepreneur — had visions of playing basketball or soccer, but he was surrounded by the arts. His grandparents are musicians, while his father also produces and writes songs.

Jones started singing in church when he was 6 years old, before successfully auditioning for Actors, Models and Talent For Christ (AMTC) and winning the Best Overall Child Performer during the organization’s 2016 talent competition in Orlando, Fla. He was signed by Frontier Booking International in New York, which led to an audition for “The Bodyguard.”

Problem was, Jones didn’t know much about the film at the time.

“My mom knew a lot about it,” Jones says. “She brought the movie home from the library and we watched it, but I didn’t know about it before that.

“I just took the audition and got it over with, and then a month later they called my mom and said I got the part, and that’s where it all started.”

Jones’ scenes in “The Bodyguard” — which launched during 2012 in London and was nominated for four Oliver Awards — are modest but impactful. And he’s featured in two musical numbers, “How Will I Know” and “Jesus Loves Me.”

He particularly enjoys the traveling and “being able to see what other cities are like, and what the audiences are like.” And, not surprisingly, he’s developing a rapport with his onstage “mother,” R&B singer Deborah Cox.

“She’s fun and she’s very professional to work with,” Jones said. “It’s been a year since I met Deborah and she’s great. She’s very nice. She cares a lot for the other cast members, and for me. It’s like she IS my mom, kind of, my second mom.”

Jones, whose parents and other family members alternate chaperoning him on the tour, spends a chunk of his time on the road each day studying with a tutor, and he attends classes in person at Doyle-Rider during tour breaks — where his classmates are, of course, curious about the life he’s living.

“They’re very into what I do — they’re intrigued, I would say,” Jones noted. “They ask me a lot of questions.”

He’s committed to “The Bodyguard” through April 15, and Jones already has his sights set on what he’d like to do next.

“I really want to be on television,” he said. “That’s been my dream since day one of this. I love the touring thing and Broadway stuff, but TV is what I would love to do. We take auditions every once in a while, so we’ll see what happens. If we don’t get one thing we just keep on going and get more auditions after that.”

• If You Go: “The Bodyguard” runs Jan. 16-Jan. 28 at The Fisher Theater, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $39-$94. Call 313-872-1000 or visit broadwayindetroit.com.

Web Site: www.broadwayindetroit.com

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