For those who don't know who Bonnie and Clyde were, they were two outlaws, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who started out in 1930's Texas and along with a few others became famous for robbing many stores and banks across several states. This was the time of the Great Depression and they both came from poor families and became minor celebrities due to the robberies and the fact that they were unmarried 20 year olds on the run. Several men, including some police officers, were killed during the robberies and those murders along with their new found fame and notoriety, made them a focus of a manhunt which ended in them being ambushed and killed. The musical covers all of that and more, wisely starting with the ambush, then going back to when they were both about 12 and showing how they met and what started them on their life of crime.
|Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan|
|Elder and Van der Schyff with Osnes and Jordan in the background|
|One of the many photos of actual people|
that are projected throughout the show
and mirror the characters on stage
Wildhorn's score features elements of country, bluegrass, gospel and blues as well as more traditional musical theatre ballads. They all fit perfectly with the time period of the story and feature some beautiful orchestrations by John McDaniel that have some lovely period perfect banjo moments. It is Wildhorn's best musical score since The Scarlet Pimpernel and is one that I think will grow on people on repeated listenings, so they'd be wise to get a cast album recorded and released soon. There are many catchy tunes, much more so then last season's Wonderland. I'm not sure if Wildhorn has wisely chosen not to include any power ballads like were present in his previous shows or if they got cut along the way over the development period of this show. But I'm glad there aren't any as the character driven ballads that are present are natural fits to the characters and the time and place of the story and aren't just generic pop rock ballads like Wildhorn has sometimes been accused of writing for his other shows.
|Michael Lanning and the ensemble combine with actual pictures to form|
a realistic "breadline" from the Great Depression
|Jordan and Elder, front right - note the newspaper article text|
projected on the wooden scrim
While the musical wisely never attempts to lay blame on anyone else but themselves as to why Bonnie and Clyde did what they did, the beatings that Clyde got in prison from both other prisoners and the guards and the mentions of Clyde and Buck being arrested or questioned by police various times for no reason at all does flesh out why Clyde and his brother have a violent streak in them. Combine this with the many views of poverty and depression and you see why Clyde decides to rob a few stores for some quick cash. However, I wish the book was just a little more focused around the world around our main characters. Sure, there is much talk about the Depression and we see bread lines and hear of how people are starving and out of work, but we rarely get a sense as to how the politicians were doing nothing to help which also contributed to many people feeling restless and desperate, which is a big reason why Bonnie and Clyde and countless others turned to a life of crime. By focusing on the tragic love story at the center, the show tries to get us to be able to connect more with the leads, but without clearly showing the impact of the world around them we lose the emotional connection to our characters that would elevate the show even more.
|Osnes and Jordan|
I'm not sure how much will change during the preview process, but with just a few tweaks Bonnie and Clyde could be a big hit.
On a side note, Calhoun, Jordan, and Ost were all involved in the recent smash hit production of Newsies at Paper Mill Playhouse that just ended a few weeks back. If that show comes in to Broadway next Spring like rumours have it, and they somehow get Jordan to appear in it, they all could find themselves with multiple Tony Nom's come May.
TV ad -
Playbill.com Behind the Scenes video -
A song from the show- "This World Will Remember Us" -
Rehearsal footage -