Review of Bonnie & Clyde – outlaws robbed by a generic rootin’-tootin’ musical | Theater

A note for those unfamiliar with Depression-era bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow: they are ultimately dead. In the musical Bonnie & Clyde, they also die at the start. A tableau of the couple collapsed in their Ford V8 surrounded by armed cops opens the show, ensuring (along with the bullet-riddled set) that everything else is seen through our knowledge of their demise.

Fans of the (non-musical) 1967 film might be surprised to find the romantic elements of the story largely intact. While Arthur Penn’s film was a scathing portrayal, dwelling on things like Clyde’s helplessness and the brutality of the duo, the show – with a book by Ivan Menchell and generic, grounded songs by Don Black and Frank Wildhorn – is a hymn to two crazy kids who just wanted to be stars.

Ako Mitchell brings gravity as a preacher. Photography: The Other Richard/Richard Davenport

Frances Mayli McCann is a charming Bonnie, distracted by thoughts of her idol Clara Bow even during moments of great drama, while Jordan Luke Gage is so likeable as Clyde, who is as in love with himself as Bonnie. , that he could afford to increase the savagery a bit. George Maguire is nicely grizzled as Clyde’s devoted brother, Buck, and Natalie McQueen has a dizzying energy similar to Megan Mullally’s as Buck’s wife, Blanche. Her voice, with its helium highs and guttural growls, is an exemplary comedic tool, but it can turn up the heat when needed, as it does in Bonnie and Blanche’s duet, You Love Who You Love.

The cast could hardly give it more excitement – Ako Mitchell also brings gravitas as a preacher – but they’re hampered by a script that never understands what it means, or why it says it. Hints at the couple seeking fame for fame’s sake aren’t enough to make it relevant. The thematic points aren’t joined, so we find that “people call them heroes” without quite understanding how or why that might be the case. “No wonder we’re who they’ll discuss / Yes, this world will remember us,” Clyde sings awkwardly. The spectacle, on the other hand, does not stay in the mind for long.