BWW Reviews: Utah Repertory Theater Company's BONNIE & CLYDE is a Worthy Utah Premiere
Utah Repertory Theater Company's production of BONNIE & CLYDE is the first time the musical has been seen in Utah and is one of the very first post-Broadway productions of the show. Utah Rep is to be applauded for taking the chance to introduce it to Utah audiences and for doing such a bang-up job.
BONNIE & CLYDE (music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black, book by Ivan Menchell) is a 2011 Broadway musical based on the lives of infamous Depression-era criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. It follows their relationship from their individual childhoods to their first meeting, when Bonnie is an innocent waitress and Clyde is already an escaped convict, to their violent deaths.
The music by Wildhorn (THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, JEKYLL & HYDE) is tuneful and very fitting to the story, characters, and setting. It is definitely worthy of its Tony nomination and is the best element of the show. The script and story are involving through intermission, but then the second act is episodic and plagued with sluggish pacing that causes the musical to feel longer than necessary.
Director Adam Cannon does a good job keeping the show moving, although some of the scene changes during songs are distracting and draw attention away from the performances.
This production stars Utah Rep founder Johnny Hebda as Clyde Barrow and board member Madeline Weinberger as Bonnie Parker.
Madeline Weinberger is a revelation as Bonnie (a Tony-nominated role). Her singing and acting are both phenomenal. She manages to convey a wide range of emotions throughout the show, all while staying true to the character and drawing out empathy from the audience.
Another impressive performance comes from the underutilized Dallin Major as deputy sheriff Ted Hinton, who pines for Bonnie. A lovely singing voice and realistic acting choices make any time he is onstage a treat.
Additional great vocal performances are provided by Johnny Wilson as Buck Barrow, Michelle Moore as Blanche Barrow (double cast with Twyla Wilson), and Christopher Bradford as the Minister.
The vocally demanding score exposes some pitch, tempo, and timbre-related issues in the cast. However, these are not widespread. The accompaniment from the live band, conducted by musical director Anjanette Mickelsen, is appreciated and mostly well played.
The space at the Lehi Arts Center has been used well to create a fitting environment for the story, thanks to set designer Steve Twede, scenic artist Amanda Wilson, and propmaster/master carpenter David Henry.
The costumes by designer Nancy Cannon and wardrobe mistress Cylie Hall are extraordinary in their historical detail. The makeup and hair design by Kelly Donahue, including realistic looking wounds and stage blood, is also a great feat.
It is clear that a good deal of research and attention to detail has been put into every aspect of this production. It is well worth the time to see it, especially knowing that this show may never again be performed in Utah.
BONNIE & CLYDE plays at the Lehi Arts Center through February 1, 2014. To buy tickets and for more information, visit www.utahrep.org.
Photo Credit: L-R Johnny Hebda (Clyde Barrow) and Madeline Weinberger (Bonnie Parker)