Bonnie & Clyde

Music By: Frank Wildhorn

Lyrics By: Don Black

Book By: Ivan Menchell

Distributed by: Broadway Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            In 2009, a new musical appeared in California at the La Jolla Playhouse.  Adapted from the book by Ivan Menchell and featuring music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Don Black, Bonnie & Clyde follows the lives of two of the most famous bank robbers of the Depression Era, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.  It moved to the Asolo Repertory Theater in Florida in 2010 and made its Broadway debut on December 1, 2011.  Closing on December 30, 2011 after 69 performances, Bonnie & Clyde received plenty of accolades including the San Diego Theatre Critics Circleís Award for Outstanding New Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, and was nominated for a number of awards in 2012 including a Tony for Best Performance of a Leading Actress in a Musical and Best Original Score.  In April 2012, Broadway Records released the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Bonnie & Clyde.

            Loosely based on the true story, the musical tells the tale of Bonnie Parker (Laura Osnes), a twenty-three year old waitress who longs to be an actress like Clara Bow, and Clyde Barrow (Jeremy Jordan), a neíer do well who has just busted out of prison with his outlaw brother Buck (Claybourne Elder).  Bonnie and Clyde meet on the side of the road as Clyde repairs Bonnieís beat up jalopy in exchange for a ride into Dallas.  Meanwhile, Blanche Barrow begs her husband to repent his ways and return to jail.  Buck relents, but Clyde refuses to go back to jail.  His reasons to stay out of prison prove founded after he is captured and subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of another prisoner.

            Breaking out of prison a second time, Clyde finds Bonnie and together they begin a crime spree, robbing stores and traveling across Middle America.  Things are going well for the two until Clyde shoots and kills a deputy, causing some serious misgivings for Bonnie.  Although she contemplates leaving Clyde, her love for him proves to be too strong and she stays with him, continuing to rob stores and banks until the bitter end, which comes in the form of the 1934 police ambush and killing of Bonnie and Clyde on a rural Louisiana road.

            I had never heard of this musical prior to receiving the original Broadway cast recording for review.  I had watched the film starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty and found the story of the Depression Era outlaws who attained folk hero status to be quite interesting.  Thus, when I received the Bonnie & Clyde cast recording, I couldnít wait to take a listen.  Although the story by Ivan Menchell is only loosely based on the real outlaws, it gets the point across.  This was a tale of two hard luck individuals who went down the wrong path, but were willing to do anything for each other in the name of love.  I think thatís why, no matter what evil they did, they attained folk hero status in their romanticized tale during an era in which deprivation was aplenty and love was hard won.

            The songs on this album are catchy and quite clever.  Opening with Picture Show and This World Will Remember Me, duets by Bonnie and Clyde, we immediately get the point of the coupleís aspirations prior to meeting one another.  Bonnie wants to be a star actress while Clyde wants to be a gangster as famous as the great Al Capone Youíre Going Back to Jail is a hysterically funny song in which Blanche begs Buck to return to prison and seeks support from her woman friends who also have husbands in jail.  Unfortunately, they love the fact that their husbands are in prison and tell stories about how much fun they are having without them, hardly persuasive tales for a man like Buck.

            The whole album is filled with tunes like this, serious at some points like Dying Ainít So Bad and wild fun like When I Drive and Godís Arms Are Always Open.  There are also some poignant tracks like Raise a Little Hell and the bonus love track This Never Happened Before.  It wasnít long before I found myself singing along - just one time listening to the album and I was ready to accompany it.

            The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Bonnie & Clyde is a whole lot of fun and would make a great gift for any fan of Broadway musicals.  After listening to the album just once, I already regretted that I hadnít heard of this musical while it was on Broadway.  I definitely would have gone to see it.


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