Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Interview: George Maguire Chats BONNIE & CLYDE at the Arts Theatre

London's Buck Barrow discusses all things Bonnie & Clyde!

Interview: George Maguire Chats BONNIE & CLYDE at the Arts Theatre
George Maguire

George Maguire is known for his Olivier Award-winning portrayal of Dave Davies in Sunny Afternoon. Fresh from being part of The Wicker Husband cast, he is currently playing Buck Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde at the Arts Theatre. We spoke with Maguire about the show.

Who inspired you most growing up?

I've always been into music quite heavily and been in bands for as long as I can remember, as soon as I could pick up a drum stick really. I was heavily inspired by Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day. While it's not a traditional "acting" answer, his presence on stage and his voice really inspired me.

And you clearly channelled your inner rock star in your Olivier Award-winning stint in Sunny Afternoon!

Yeah, it's weird. I think I've been quite lucky that my passion for music has been mixed with my passion for acting. They're dream jobs really when you get to sort of do a gig on stage and tell a story at the same time.

How are rehearsals going at the moment for Bonnie & Clyde?

They're going really well. It's all coming together nicely. After doing the concert version, which was semi-staged, it's great to do the full version with a much bigger set and all that stuff. It's really exciting.

For those unfamiliar with the show, what can they expect?

It's set in the 1920/30s in Texas, during the Great Depression. People are losing their homes, they're really poor. This is a story of two young lovers [Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow] who meet, both feeling frustrated with the world, and thinking that they are destined for something bigger than they have.

They go on a crime spree of robbing banks, which then leads to people getting killed, and, eventually, every police force in the country is trying to get them. The show follows them on this crazy adventure. And then there's the wider Barrow gang circle, which is where Blanche and Buck come in as well. It's very much a plot of intrigue designed to draw people in.

How did you find going from the concert version to this full run? Have you enjoyed being reunited with most of your concert castmates and having more time to go into the text?

Yes, definitely. We basically did the concert in a week and a half, and while that was great, it's nice to think about it a bit more and have time to work on scenes and the relationships between these characters. Jordan Luke Gage joined us for this run and we've had fun finding that kind of brotherly dynamic. He's brilliant. It's been really cool. I love rehearsing. It's my favourite part of the job. I love spending the whole day working things out, thinking about things, and trying stuff out.

What's your favourite thing about playing Buck Barrow, Clyde's big brother?

The guns and suits for sure, but he's also a really interesting character. He's not quite as unhinged as Clyde becomes. His motivations are slightly different, but he does love the excitement of him and his brother, committing crimes and getting away with it, driving fast cars.

He's fun to play; he's got this kind of dilemma in his head of what he wants out of his life with Blanche, his wife versus seeing his brother, Clyde, living out his dream and wanting a piece of that action. It's really interesting.

Interview: George Maguire Chats BONNIE & CLYDE at the Arts Theatre
Natalie McQueen and George Maguire
in Bonnie & Clyde rehearsals

Have you enjoyed being reunited with Natalie McQueen, your Blanche from the concert?

Yeah, totally. Natalie is great and very easy to work with. We worked well in the concert and now we've managed to develop more of our dynamic.

They're great characters - they bounce off each other. Blanche is very religious, and he's not. They do love each other, and they are a good couple, but they do have problems and struggles, which is not so fun.

Are there any particular scenes or numbers you're looking forward to performing every night?

Oh, yes, I like doing the song "When I Drive", which is done by Buck and Clyde. They're reunited after busting out of jail. They just talk about life and the fact that they love driving fast cars. It's a brilliant tune, it's very fun. I also like "Raise A Little Hell (Reprise)" in Act Two. It's big and dramatic.

What do you think it is about this show that has such great appeal?

I think it's a number of things. The music is brilliant. It's perfectly written for the piece and the characters. The songs are really memorable and all a bit different.

I also think the story is exciting and interesting. On the one hand, we've got to be careful that we don't celebrate these people who became killers and committed these crimes because there were actual victims, but I think Ivan Menchell's book gets the balance right. It makes people want to know more about the duo. People do love Bonnie and Clyde in this, as well as seeing the damage that they do.

We live in an age where true crime documentaries and podcasts are really popular. I think we're fascinated by what makes people do crazy things that most of us would never do. I think that's exciting. That's interesting.

It was on Broadway briefly around ten years ago and a cult following has built up around the cast recording, so I think people are also excited to see a full production in London.

Are there any other projects you'd like to tell us about?

I have a band with Rachael Wooding called The Lonesome Frets. We're two singers in that and we have like a full rock band with us as well. We've got an EP out, called Running, which you can listen to on Spotify etc.

We try to gig as much as we can, but we're both in shows at the moment. Rachael is in Pretty Woman, and I'm doing Bonnie & Clyde, so gigging is hard but we do it when we're free.

We're also writing a show ourselves at the moment. Rachel's written the script, and I'm writing the music and it's called Them and Us - it's a gritty Northern musical play. We're looking towards workshopping that next year possibly, so watch out for that.

I've also just finished being in The Wicker Husband, which was a cool job. I was doing puppetry in that and I've now caught the bug, so hopefully I'll be doing more of that in the future. Things are very busy which is great after the last few years of lockdown.

Interview: George Maguire Chats BONNIE & CLYDE at the Arts Theatre
George Maguire, Natalie McQueen
and Frances Mayli McCann in
Bonnie & Clyde rehearsals

How do you find writing a show versus performing in one? Do you have a preference?

We've had one readthrough of Them and Us so far and it felt amazing! We had a great group of actors, like Anna-Jane Casey, and it was such a great feeling hearing the script being read, things coming off the page along with the songs you know you've created.

I love acting and taking on a role and I love sort of getting on stage and singing the songs that we've written with a band, seeing people enjoy them - it's an unexplainable, brilliant kind of feeling.

I don't think I'd ever be able to just be an actor and read scripts, just doing other people's work. I've always written songs since I was young so I love having that other creative outlet. If you're only being an actor, you can only act when you get a job but if you're doing your own stuff, then you can be creating things all the time, which I think is important, and even cast yourself in a role!

Do you have any advice for aspiring performers and creatives?

If it's what you really want to do, it will be hard, but you've got to just keep doing it as much as you can. Try and see as much as you can, get involved.

Listen to as many different bands as you can and just look for inspiration. A lot of what you do comes from the things you've heard and seen, what inspires you. It creates your ability to create. Be open to it.

If you had to go on a road trip with Buck and Clyde, where would you go and who would you take with you?

Can it be anywhere? I'd probably drive a camper van to Glastonbury festival or something and just do that. I need to get back there, it's in the front of my mind. We'd take the girls, Bonnie and Blanche, and have a bit of a party.

Why should people come and see Bonnie & Clyde?

If you like exciting adventures, true crime stories and amazing music, you're going to be transported by this show. It's going to be an immersive theatrical experience. At the Arts Theatre, you really will feel like you're part of this world, right in with the action.

Bonnie & Clyde is at the Arts Theatre until 10 July

Rehearsal photos: Darren Bell

Related Articles View More UK / West End Stories

From This Author - Fiona Scott