BWW Review: BONNIE & CLYDE at Town Hall Arts Center
"Someday they'll go down together
they'll bury them side by side.
To few it'll be grief,
to the law a relief
but it's death for Bonnie and Clyde."
-The Trail's End - By Bonnie Parker
The Great Depression was a dark and confusing period in American history, with unemployment at record breaking highs, homelessness and food scarcities, much of the American population was struggling to make ends meet. However, shown the face of adversity, our country was given an opportunity to evolve and created new paths for success, two of those dreamers were the infamous Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose search for fame and fortune shook America to its core, brought them coveted fame and infamy, inspiring songs, movies...even a musical.
Bonnie & Clyde opened on Broadway in 2011. With music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Don Black, the musical follows the tale of America's most notorious criminal duo and their passionate and crime-filled love affair.
Directed by Nick Sugar, much of the show focuses on their love story and a few of their misdeeds threaded throughout the musical, beginning their journey in Dallas, Texas. Bonnie (Ellen Kaye), a waitress with big dreams for Hollywood, falls in love and makes history. Kaye's Bonnie has a sweetness and vulnerability with a burning drive that is clear when she performs "How 'Bout a Dance." We willingly follow her down the fiery path she chooses and fall in love with her intoxicating performance of, "Dyin' Ain't so Bad." Clyde (Tim Howard) is the man who fuels Bonnie's passion and leads her into a world of crime. With charm and charisma, Howard also shows off a darker edgier side, performing country-rock numbers such as, "When I Drive" and "Raise A Little Hell."
While most of the action follows the infamous duo, we are also given a glimpse into everyday living. Throughout the production we see Blanch Barrow (Alison Mueller) fighting to maintain the stable life she had always dreamed of. Mueller's Blanche tugs at the heart strings as you watch her lose the battle for her dreams of normalcy. Buck (Chas Lederer) worked the stage as Clyde's brother. We see his character struggle with family loyalties, economic struggles and his own search for happiness. Chas' Buck, to me, was the most relatable character on stage and brought tears to my eyes when he met his untimely end. The ensemble created a realistic community and provided stunning visual images in scenes like "God's Arms Are Always Opening" and "Made in America" both songs featuring the Preacher (Keegan Flaugh.)
This production, to great success, used many technical aspects to help underline those the seriousness at hand. The gruesome death scene of Bonnie and Clyde in the opening scene is just a teaser to special effects designer Todd Debreceni's gore designs. His effects are used throughout the show and provide a realness and grounding to each death scene and bullet wound. Another aspect that really stood out, was the use of projections designed by Brian Freeland, which brought to life a simple stage by Tina Anderson. Through the projections, featuring real-life headlines and photographs, the locations and timelines were clear and easily identifiable.
The costuming for the show designed by Linda Morken helped the development of characters. As Bonnie and Clyde became more infamous their clothing was a reflection, building the grandeur of their ever growing egos. Lighting, designed by Seth Alison, created drama on the stage. The use of spot lighting characters and the partially lit stage scenes gave the performance a film noir feel.
The live music from the band, led by Donna Kolpan Debreceni, was an extra character on the stage that helped weave the story together. The band showed off their considerable skills by jumping around to different musical genres with ease.
Overall, the show left me feeling entertained and brought a skip to my step. The music was catchy and the acting kept me involved in every plot line. Town Hall's space provided a lovely escape into the story of Bonnie and Clyde.
Bonnie & Clyde plays Town Halls Arts Center through March 19. Show times are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are available at TownHallArtsCenter.org/Bonnie-Clyde or by calling 303-794-2787 ext. 5 (Monday - Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1 hour prior to shows). Group discounts available for purchasing ten or more tickets, please contact Corey Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.794.2787 x 213. In a continuing effort to make plays at Town Hall Arts Center accessible to all, ten value seats at $10 each will be made available on a first-come-first-served basis one-hour prior to each published curtain time.
Photograph by Becky Toma