BWW Interview: BONNIE AND CLYDE at School Street Playhouse
by Josephine H. Tuso-Key
There's been a bit of a buzz lately about the School Street Playhouse in Cumming and its current production of BONNIE AND CLYDE: THE MUSICAL. You might have seen the billboard in Forsyth county which advertises the show with a steamy picture of the show's leads played by Kealy Ford and Dane Croxton. The chemistry that can be felt in the still shots is even bigger on stage, and is due to the fact that Ford and Croxton are actually very much in love off stage as well. Kealy and Dane were high school sweethearts, and have been dating for 4 years. Both are students at UGA--Dane will be beginning pharmacy school in the fall, and Kealy just finished up her freshman year majoring in English Education. These two take community theater to a new level as they light up the stage portraying America's most famous law-breaking couple.
I've known Kealy and Dane for several years--both of them were actors in Play on Players Children's Theater and got their feet wet on the stage of Central Forsyth High School. It's been a pleasure seeing them grow as artists.
BWW: Tell us a little bit about BONNIE AND CLYDE: THE MUSICAL
KEALY: It's been my favorite show since I was a freshman in high school. It's really interesting following their stories. The soundtrack is non-traditional and really cool and contemporary.
DANE: In terms of the plot, it's definitely one of the coolest shows I've ever been a part of. It's really fun being able to play villains, which is definitely new for me. The overall story of the show is awesome and we've really enjoyed putting it on.
BWW: Bonnie and Clyde are villians, but they are celebrated villains, and have intrigued American pop culture for a long time.
KEALY: They are very sympathetic villains in this story for sure.
BWW: Do you think it's the relationship between the two of them that makes it an enduring story?
KEALY: Absolutely. Bonnie Parker is a waitress at a diner. She and Clyde meet and he offers to help her fix up her car in exchange for a ride into West Dallas. She's pretty much infatuated with him because he goes on a rant talking about how he can't wait to get out of the town and how everyone is content to be living these bland lives. So she's immediately taken to him because he's talking about all the things she's thought about. She feels she belongs in Hollywood in movies ,and she's too good for the little town she's grown up in. Her journey is sparked by what he says, falling in love with him, moving out of the town, and living a much grander life.
DANE: Clyde is an awesome character to play. It's Weird because a child he looks up to outlaws like Al Capone and Billy the Kid. I don't know why--maybe it's the gun slinging aspect, being famous, or committing crimes, but he's totally infatuated with it. As he grows up, he has a hard life. He's homeless for three years of his life and basically has a cynical look on the world and feels "We've been dealt a bad end. We can live by the rules, and deal with the bad hand we've been given, or I can be this villian and see how far it can get me." So he grows up with these dreams. He's going to do these jobs, get in the paper, and be famous. It's cool in the show because it shows a change. He goes to prison and has a really hard time in prison. I know in real life he actually cut off his toes so he wouldn't have to do any work. He also gets repeatedly raped by a man and that changes him. Instead of being in it for the thrill, he resigns himself to, "This is my life now. I've got to it because I've just got to do this." There's a moment in the show where I really try to bring that across.
BWW: Didn't their career end terribly?
KEALY: The ending is alluded to in the show. The show begins with them being dead in the car that, in real life, they were shot and killed in. Her head is laying on his shoulder and there's a red spotlight on them, so you see how they met their end. At the end of the show there is a reprieve and he picks her up and they get in the car in that same position. A white spotlight is on them with a projection behind them that says "Bonnie Parker, Clyde Farrow Slain in a Car" which is a newspaper headline of their death.
BWW: How does dating each other benefit you both working together on this show?
KEALY: It's actually really fun, because we've never had the chance to play counterparts before. Especially this role. It's so romantically charged, so it was great to work together and play off each other, Our energies and our voices go really well together.
DANE: I think that I have a good comparison... because I felt like this part is definitely ...I couldn't imagine playing it with someone I didn't really feel comfortable with if that makes any sense. I would compare it to maybe like THE LAST FIVE YEARS where it's just them two the entire time and you've got to sell that chemistry. You have to show the loving aspect and the volatility. There's a lot of that in this story, and to pull that off--I can't imagine having to do that with someone I just met. It's been super fun to do it together, but it's also been super beneficial to us being able to put the characters across because we're so comfortable with each other and because we date each other.
BWW: How does their relationship compare and contrast to yours?
KEALY: We are definitely nothing like them except that we love each other very much.
BWW: Will you all continue to pursue community theater even with your busy college schedules?
DANE: I definitely see ourselves continuing in community theater, depending on the shows and our schedule.
KEALY: Since I still have 3 years at UGA, I may become involved in the theater program there.
BWW: How much research did you do prior to the show?
KEALY: I've done my own research through the years since I saw this show 5 years ago. I've been obsessed with their story and love how interesting it is.
BWW: Anything else you'd like us to know about the show.
KEALY: It's so interesting. The script itself and the music-- it's so action packed. My friends who've come to see the show are intrigued by the story and become obsessed with Bonnie and Clyde, Looking over all the stories and documentaries they can find.
DANE: It's like a fresh take on their story and it's like the only one that has kind of been sympathetic to them. Some people praised them as heroes, as it was taking place during the great depression. The banks were more vilified then they were for what they were doing to people. Clyde felt he was victimized by the entire system.
The show is presented by Peachtree Players under the direction of Alicia Lane Dutton at the former Cumming Playhouse. Shows run from May 30th to June 23rd. Tickets are available at www.schoolstreetplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 770-781-9178.