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Review Roundup: BONNIE & CLYDE on Broadway - All the Reviews!

BONNIE & CLYDE opened tonight at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. BONNIE & CLYDE has direction by Jeff Calhoun, music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black, book by Ivan Menchell and music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by John McDaniel.

Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan are joined on stage by Melissa van der Schyff as Blanche Barrow, Claybourne Elder as Buck Barrow, Joe Hart as Sheriff Schmid and Louis Hobson as Ted Hinton. The cast also features: Leslie BeckerMimi BessetteAlison CimmetDaniel CooneyJon FletcherVictor HernandezSean JennessKatie KlausMichael LanningGarrett LongMatt LutzMarissa McGowanCassie OkenkaJustin Matthew SargentTad WilsonKelsey FowlerTalon AckermanRosie Baker and Jack Tartaglia.

Did they do a bang-up job with the critics? Let's find out...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: “Bonnie & Clyde,” which opened on Thursday night at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, is a modest, mildly tuneful musical biography of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the kissin’ outlaws from Texas who hijacked the American imagination during the Great Depression. It portrays its title characters (played by Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan) as restless, libido-charged young ’uns who are about to suffocate from the grayness of their dreary lives.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: The first act, where our anti-heroes meet and begin their illegal activities, is the best. Director Jeff Calhoun moves the action swiftly, combining a wood-slate set, projections and moody lighting to create period atmospherics. Things unravel in the overlong second act, which wastes too much time on uninteresting secondary plot lines and characters. Melissa van der Schyff is terrific as Clyde’s sister-in-law, but Blanche’s motivations make no sense.
Where is the excitement of gunnin’ and runnin’, you wonder?

Elysa Gardner, USA Today: But even as played by a pair of appealing, charismatic young actors, these two never emerge as the populist anti-heroes that the writers clearly had in mind. Laura Osnes' fresh beauty and understated sauciness can mitigate this Bonnie's moony, moody antics only so much, while Jeremy Jordan's robust singing and graceful swagger just make the hollowness of Clyde's narcissism — and of the generic vocal showcases that Black and Wildhorn provide him — more obvious.

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: In short order, this musical vehicle steers straight to the middle of the road.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: Jordan, who was in "Rock of Ages," is charisma in person, a ball of swaggering arrogance with a sad boy underneath that's catnip to Bonnie (and many of the women in the audience). Bonnie, we are told, was a ravishing redhead, and Osnes is just that — this "Anything Goes" alumna transforms from a girl in need of attention (her sad "How 'Bout a Dance" is beautiful) to a stone-cold fox cradling a shotgun. This is a killer combination: They will slay you, literally.

Erik Haagensen, Backstage: The one thing that a show about infamous killers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow should not be is safe. Unfortunately, book writer Ivan Menchell, lyricist Don Black, composer Frank Wildhorn, and director-choreographer Jeff Calhoun have settled for a paint-by-numbers primer that presents the murderous pair as a couple of misunderstood kids trapped by the Depression. But there were many people in the 1930s who didn't respond to poverty and oppression by robbing banks and machine-gunning those in their way. Whatever made Bonnie and Clyde special is missing from this sentimental musical, as are sufficient character development, adequate dramatic thrust, and any kind of subtext. If this is what passes for serious musical theater on Broadway today, heaven help us.

Thom Geir, Entertainment Weekly: Ivan Menchell's script mostly propels the story forward while never managing to establish why this outlaw duo so seized the public imagination. We see bank patrons ask for Bonnie's autograph during a holdup, for instance, but we never really grasp why — especially since the scene ends with Clyde gunning down the teller. And there's no good explanation for why Clyde's deeply religious sister-in-law (Melissa Van der Schyff, who has a lovely second-act ballad, 'That's What You Call a Dream') joins her husband on the lam. The production's biggest success may be Aaron Rhyne's projections, which include vintage photos of the real-life models for the characters on stage — including their mug shots. It makes you wonder what another team might have made of this promising material. Wildhorn's Bonnie & Clyde aims for kiss-kiss-bang-bang, but too often it's just firing blanks. C

Adam Feldman, TimeOut NY: Skillfully directed by Jeff Calhoun, Bonnie & Clyde doesn’t glamorize its subjects, as Arthur Penn’s 1967 film was accused of doing, but it does sentimentalize them; they are introduced to us as children, dreaming of fame, and never grow far beyond that. No matter how many innocent people they kill, this musical’s Bonnie and Clyde remain—like the show itself—not great, but not that bad.

Roma Torre, NY 1: Director Jeff Calhoun stages the projection-rich production with great efficiency even if it takes awhile to get off the ground. "Bonnie and Clyde" has many virtues but also enough flaws to keep it from blowing you away.

David Rooney, Reuters / Hollywood Reporter: These gifted performers are given songs that dip into bluegrass or country, gospel or rock, not to mention that ubiquitous Wildhorn favorite, the blustery power ballad. But the composer and lyricist show little flair for marrying story with song. And while several of them are catchy, the numbers mostly remain derivative pseudo-pop, too often regurgitating the same ideas. That and the superficial book drain the blood from what should be a dynamic story of fugitive lovers on a date with death.

Steve Suskin, Variety: Boy meets girl on a deserted road in Depression-era West Dallas, and sooner than you can say "Warren Beatty," they're rolling in the hay -- or rather, the dust. Seeing as how his name is Clyde and hers is Bonnie, the eventual outcome is no surprise here, and indeed the dead-end story trajectory grows burdensome, as does the fact that unschooled white-trash gunslingers generally aren't loquacious enough to steal the spotlight. For all that, three exciting performances and a better-than-usual score from Frank Wildhorn combine to make this an arresting if problematic new musical.

Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal: 'Bonnie & Clyde' isn't the worst musical to open on Broadway in the past decade. It isn't even the worst Frank Wildhorn musical to open on Broadway in the past decade. (That would be "Dracula.") It is, however, quite sufficiently bad enough to qualify for the finals of this year's What-Were-They-Thinking Prize. Why would anyone not obviously deranged put money into a show with music by a composer whose last three Broadway outings tanked? And who thought it was a good idea to write a commodity musical whose title gives the impression that "Bonnie & Clyde" is based (even though it isn't) on a 44-year-old movie that is no longer well remembered save by upper-middle-age baby boomers? Nor have Mr. Wildhorn and his feckless collaborators managed to beat these long odds: "Bonnie & Clyde" is so enervatingly bland and insipid that you'll leave the theater asking yourself why you ever liked musicals in the first place.

Howard Shapiro, Philadelphia Inquirer: Bonnie and Clyde were real public enemies. The new Broadway musical Bonnie & Clyde is really its own worst enemy.

Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom: The show occasionally jolts but it generally fails to electrify viewers or inspire much pity for its hard-luck protagonists. Perhaps a full-blown operatic treatment is the only way to illuminate a story as dark as this one.

Robert Feldberg, The show's young stars sing powerfully, and give spirited performances, even if they're not provided depths to plumb. Osnes firmly conveys Bonnie's independent streak, while Jordan makes Clyde a persuasive hell-raiser. Director Jeff Calhoun presents a lively sense of the couple's wild spree, which ended with their violent deaths in 1934. Not enough meaningful attention is paid, though, to their celebrity status, which they helped promote and were delighted by... Of the show's various flaws, the most consequential is its failure, despite strenuous effort, to make the relationship of Bonnie and Clyde significant. If you can't get to the ticket-buyers' emotions with a tale of lovers dying young, nothing else really matters.

Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News: We can’t all be Mary Poppins. Frank Wildhorn’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” which opened last night on Broadway, has catchy songs, a fleshed out story and plenty of heart thanks to the snazzy direction by Jeff Calhoun and a design team that invokes the period in broad but astute strokes.

Linda Winer, Newsday: There should be -- and I'm guessing there will be -- a place on Broadway this season for "Bonnie & Clyde." Certainly, Arthur Penn's 1967 film masterwork of violence and gorgeous outlaws does not cry out to be a musical. And, if it did, vanilla-pop composer Frank Wildhorn would not appear on most lists of feasible adapters. And yet . . . the show has two of the elements that broad audiences seem to like in a musical: A recognizable story and music that sounds like music we've heard before. More, director Jeff Calhoun's good-looking production is exceptionally well-cast, including a breakout performance by Jeremy Jordan as a seething yet sympathetic Clyde Barrow.

Matt Windman, amNewYork: This really had the potential to be an entertaining, action-packed musical. Yet in spite of a mostly pleasant country-and-blues score and strong, sexy performances from the doll-faced Laura Osnes and heartthrob Jeremy Jordan, this remains a problematic show that lacks focus and tends to pause and meander too often.

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