Friday, December 2, 2011

Frank Wildhorn's Bonnie & Clyde Shoot Their Way to An Opening

The musical version of the 1967 Oscar-winning film Bonnie & Clyde, in turn based on the lives of real-life owtlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, opened last night at Broadway's Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre and the reviews are in -- and are very mixed. The show, "a tuneful musical biography of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the kissin’ outlaws from Texas who hijacked the American imagination during the Great Depression ... portrays its title characters (played by Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan) as restless, libido-charged young ’uns who are about to suffocate from the grayness of their dreary lives." (Ben Brantley, The New York Times)

The New York Times panned the show, calling it basically dead. There is lots of action, what with the bank hold ups, (offstage) sex and fast cars, "but they just can’t seem to shake the torpor that makes every day in their lives ... feel like the one that came before it ... Directed and (sort of) choreographed by Jeff Calhoun, Bonnie & Clyde manages to make that triple-threat lure of sex, youth and violence seem about as glamorous as — and a lot less dangerous than — Black Friday at Wal-Mart." The show is supposed to be so bad that even the set was panned. "There are also projected pictures of the real Bonnie and Clyde, a bad idea, since they bristle with a gritty individuality that no one onstage possesses."

Brantley says that the two lead actors work hard with what they're given and could even be good if the material were better, but they just can't hock this piece of schlock. That being said, however, the score was not entirely detested, bucking Frank Wildhorn's trend of having his work absolutely torn to shreds by reviewers.

Variety was much kinder to the show, actually praising it and saying that Wildhorn's score works quite well. The reviewer here also said the acting was well done, citing Laura Osnes' Bonnie "especially winning," and saying that Melissa van der Schyff gives "a standout performance, singing and acting commandingly as Clyde's sister-in-law Blanche," the role that won an Oscar for Estelle Parsons in the movie.

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