- Xi Ye
Review - Bonnie & Clyde the Musical
Updated: Feb 6
Director & Choreographer
Katy Richardson and Nick Barstow
The story follows a pair of criminals, Bonnie and Clyde, who caused havoc across America during the Great Depression. When Bonnie and Clyde met each other, they took the future into their own hands, even if that meant robbing banks to get by.
Bang! Not only because this was used repeatedly throughout the performance, but also because this is how impactful this show’s projection and scores were. The story was kicked off by the young versions of Bonnie (Aiya Agustin) and Clyde (Finn Barwell), who set a very high bar for the rest of cast within the first minute.
The sliding stage panels were used most effectively to facilitate the transition from the young actors to their grown-up counterparts. In fact, the transition from Aiya to Frances Mayli McCann, who plays the grown-up Bonnie, was so seamless I barely noticed the change in vocals. Both Bonnie and Clyde held on to their childhood dreams even after growing up, however unrealistic and outrageous those dreams were. This is particularly the case for Clyde, who could be described as borderline obsessed with the idea of becoming an outlaw like Billy the Kid. McCann’s delivery of Bonnie was consistent and so strong that I would not be surprised if she is nominated for a Best Actress in a Musical for this role in one of the major awards.
Unsurprisingly, the chemistry between McCann and Jordan Luke Gage, who played Clyde was electric. While Bonnie appeared to be the more grounded character to keep Clyde in check, it became clear that she is just as ecstatic as Clyde is as their tales spread across America. While the entire cast gave an exceedingly strong performance, I was particularly impressed by Natalie McQueen and Gracie Lai. McQueen played the role of Blanche Barrow, Clyde’s sister-in-law, and has a particular knack for comedy. Her delivery of “You’re goin’ back to jail” was hilarious to the extreme and the audience was in howls of laughter with most of her appearances. Lai on the other hand, played the role of Emma Parker, Bonnie’s mother, and was also in the ensemble for a few of the musical numbers. Lai poured her heart and soul into every role she played and I found myself impressed by all of her deliveries.
The stage design and projections were also very well done. The projections were dynamic, provided a clear visual impact on the audience, and was used most effectively to deliver the story. The Arts Theatre is a small venue and it surprised me how much they were able to fit onto the stage and how smooth the transitions were.
Despite the fact that the show has some very good stage designs and directions, there are a few areas which seemed lacklustre. First, given that this is a love story between Bonnie and Clyde, their immediate attraction toward one another felt rushed and illogical, especially after she found out that he is a runaway convict! When Bonnie and Clyde successfully robbed their first target, they grabbed some cash out of the bag and threw them up into the air. Given the spectacles the audience has witnessed by this point in the story, this scene was underwhelming and could have made a bigger impact if there was projection of silhouettes of cash flying around or outright release confetti of cash from the top of the stage.
Bonnie & Clyde is a fast paced story with a fantastic original score. The overall aim of the story seems simple, to be famous across America. However, it was never explained why Bonnie and Clyde wanted this, which, if provided some background, could add significant benefits to drive the story forward. Nonetheless, the show was a spectacle both visually and auditorily. This production is well suited to a smaller venue like the Arts Theatre, where no seat is too far from the stage, allowing the performers to more easily spread their enthusiasm to the entire audience.