‘You Love Who You Love’ and I’m in love with Bonnie & Clyde, the musical.
This show is based on the notorious criminal couple that travelled around the USA in the 1930s, robbing banks and stores during the Great Depression. With music from Frank Wildhorn and lyrics from Don Black, Bonnie & Clyde’s Broadway run in 2011 was cut short, only playing 36 shows after opening night. This was due to negative reviews from critics which impacted ticket sales. However it’s since become somewhat of a cult classic.
After two concerts at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in January 2022, which sold out in just six minutes. Starring Frances Maylin McCann and Jeremy Jordan in the titular roles. It was then announced that a fully staged production was set for the West End. This show has a very limited run of just 13 weeks and is housed in the Arts Theatre, a relatively small venue.
The show begins with Bonnie and Clyde dead (spoiler alert!) in their car. We then quickly transition to the couple as children. Young Bonnie and Clyde are brilliant, these roles are shared between multiple actors. Young Bonnie is shared by Aiya Agustin, Jersey Blu Georgia, Lineo Ncube & Bea Ward. Young Clyde is shared by Finn Barwell, Louie Gray, George Menezes Cutts & Isaac Lancel Watkinson. Bonnie dreams of growing up to be Clara Bow, whereas Clyde dreams of being Billy the Kid. During ‘Picture Show’ Young Bonnie and Clyde the transition into adult Bonnie and Clyde. It’s a smooth and flawless transition and very well done.
Natalie McQueen proves a natural comedian in her role of Blanche Barrow. She’s hilarious and heartbreaking in her portrayal of a woman hoping her husband changes and they can live a quieter life. ‘You’re Going Back To Jail’ is funny and beautifully performed by McQueen and the female ensemble, it is a musical highlight of the show. (And I’ve had the song on repeat ever since I saw the show for the first time!).
Frances Mayli McCann reprises her role of Bonnie Parker. McCann’s voice is sensational, her portrayal of Parker is great, however the show cuts her character development short – never really revealing why Bonnie transforms from an aspiring actress dreaming of Hollywood and stardom to a bank robbing outlaw.
Jordan Luke Gage plays Clyde Barrow as a cheeky chap, which makes him incredibly likeable. He’s charismatic which is important as it shows why Bonnie would fall for him. Plus it means the audience root for an outlaw…
Gage’s vocals are phenomenal- the fact he does this every night and his vocal chords are still intact is unbelievable. The emotions he puts into his performance are felt through every word – and his version of ‘Raise A Little Hell’ is exceptional, and most of the reason why I went returned to see the show again.
The score of this show is incredible, with hints of country, rock, gospel and ballads. Although I do feel that Act One has better songs compared to Act Two. The end of Act One is one of the best ends to an Act I’ve ever seen with the transitions between; ‘You Love Who You Love’ >> ‘Raise A Little Hell’ >> ‘This World Will Remember Us’ – this is the highlight of the show for me.
The Arts Theatre is small in size, but the show makes great use of the space they have. The staging, props and costumes transport you back in time. But I questioned the need for the video design incorporated into the staging and whether this added anything to the production value or storytelling.
Despite the couple of gripes I have, these absolutely do not get in the way of me enjoying the show. I’ve been to see it twice and wish I could go again – so I think that says it all! I’m just being picky.
I really hope that this isn’t the last we see of Bonnie & Clyde, we need a longer run or a tour. And a West End cast recording NOW please. The show is at the Arts Theatre until the 10th of July… so get on down and raise a little hell soon!
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