BWW Reviews: 54 BELOW CELEBRATES WILDHORN Rocked With BONNIE & CLYDE Reunion Concert
For all of the Frank Wildhorn fans 54 BELOW is stuffing their stockings with a fantastic treat this December. On December 2, the beloved venue launched their 54 BELOW Celebrates Frank Wildhorn concerts with a Bonnie & Clyde reunion, which was reprised last night. On these two special nights audiences got to experience the exciting score live. Some were delighted as they reminisced about the Broadway production while others were thrilled to hear the score live for the first time. Either way, the high-octane concert proved that Bonnie and Clyde still have life in them yet.
With Wildhorn seated at the piano, last night's concert kicked off with "Picture Show," introducing audiences to the big dreams of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Kelsey Fowler and Talon Ackerman warmed our hearts as the younger versions of the titular characters, and both Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan entered to thunderous applause in the small venue for their verses in the song. Without missing a beat the starring duo launched into a rousing take on "The World Will Remember Me." Wildhorn explained that in an attempt to fit as much music into the performance as possible that the vamping between numbers would be kept to a minimum.
As the show progressed Osnes soared on a brilliant version of "How 'bout a Dance?" Likewise, Jordan bowled audiences over with his spectacular belt on "When I Drive." In between numbers Osnes was charming and cordial and Jordon cracked some hilarious jokes, especially when elaborating that "This Never Happened Before" was cut from the show because it was about Clyde Barrow suffering from (temporary) impotence. He made similar cracks before delivering a powerful and impressively fiery rendition of "Raise a Little Hell," asking audiences to imagine him as if he'd just been violated by another man in prison and was covered in blood.
Of course, the leads were not the only stars of this concert. Melissa van der Schyff displayed spectacular vocals on "You Love Who You Love" and "Now That's What You Call a Dream." Kevin Massey was vibrant on "When I Drive." Michael Lanning brought the house down with his solos on "God's Arms Are Always Open" and "Made in America." Louis Hobson lit up the stage opposite Jordon on "You Can Do Better Than Him" and "Raise a Little Hell (Reprise)." Additionally, Mimi Bessette performed an evocative and emotionally rich version of the cut song "The Devil," in which Bonnie's mom laments that Clyde has been a terrible influence on her once sweet daughter.
With indefatigable energy and impressive skill the small band brought out the country and R&B influences of the score, deftly playing Wildhorn's tunes with precision and clarity. For those unfamiliar, this is Wildhorn sounding the least like Wildhorn. For Bonnie & Clyde his elegiac and lushly legato ballads have mostly been replaced with the catchy, undulating pop country and early rock sounds of the 1930s. Antoine Silverman brought his violin and the score to life with some electric guitar solo like moments. Julia Adamy alternated between the upright and electric bass, giving the music that driving energy it needs. Clint de Ganon kept our feet tapping and hands clapping as he masterfully played the drums.
Last night's concert was recorded for Broadway Records, and the company has plans to record the "Frank and Friends" incarnation of 54 BELOW CELEBRATES FRANK WILDHORN on Friday, December 5 as well. Whether you're a fan of contemporary American musical theatre or just enjoy fantastically written songs, the remaining concerts in this series should be on your to-do list. "Frank and Friends" will be performed on December 5 and 6 at both 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at 54 BELOW, 254 West 54th Street, New York City, New York 10019. For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.54below.com or call (646) 476-3551.