BWW Review: BONNIE AND CLYDE at 11th Hour Theatre Company
"Everyone's got dreams, but I've got plans," a line from Eleventh Hour Theatre Company's Bonnie and Clyde, rings almost ironically true.
The concert production leaves more than a little to be desired, but leading ladies Rita Castagna (Bonnie) and Kathleen Borelli (Blanche) prove they have more than just dreams.
The show is a musical adaptation of the lives of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the famous 1930's gangster couple. The script is emotional yet hilarious and music catchy and refreshing. However, poor casting and a lack of production value at Eleventh Hour made it clear good bones aren't enough.
Clyde, who is supposed to be an irresistible bad boy-type is played by Angel J. Sigala, who seems to make decent acting choices, but doesn't fit the part or hit the notes. The rest of the cast (Castagna and Borelli excluded) sing well together, but perform individually like college students who are still finding their style. Cast members, who carry binders containing scripts through the show, still regularly bluffed lines and had awkward body language. Although I have no doubt some of the cast could shine in other roles, they did not fit well into Bonnie and Clyde. I feel director Megan Nicole O'Brien could have pushed more to showcase individual talents and make the cast members' disjointed performances mesh.
This messy end product was starkly contrasted by the performances of Castagna and Borelli, who captivated audiences each time they took center stage. Castagna's singing voice gave me chills from the moment she opened her mouth. At one point in act two, she sang the opening notes to "Dyin' Ain't So Bad" so crystal clearly and beautifully that you could hear audible gasps from the audience. Her singing was reinforced by solid acting and impeccable stage presence. Although she is only a junior in college, her unique sound and take makes it clear she will be trusted with more leading roles in the near future.
Borelli, a more experienced actress, puts it all on the table with her performance. She brings well-needed emotion and intimacy to the show as the loyal, religious wife of Clyde's criminal brother, Buck. A stand-out scene is when Buck dies slowly in her arms as she sings a reprise of "God's Arms are Always Open." Her lovely voice and killer acting chops left all eyes glued to the stage.
Although Borelli and Castagna stand out, the less-than-stellar moments in the show are unfortunately underscored by costumes which looked like they were pieced together from grandma's attic. The concert version lends itself to a bare bones set of just enough chairs for the actors in the cast and some strewn about props. The actors performed at the front of the stage into microphones with their binders. With so little else to take you into the dangerous world of Bonnie and Clyde, the actors had to carry the show, and without any glitz and glam, it was too easy to realize where they fell short.
The on-stage band was a nice touch, however, and I enjoyed watching one band member, Will Mullen, play the entire woodwind section -- clarinet, flute, saxophone and others -- on his own.
Despite some missteps, the concert version of Bonnie and Clyde at 11th Hour Theatre Company was largely entertaining and served as a laboratory for some rising stars.
The show runs until Sunday, January 13th, and tickets can be purchased HERE.