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Clyde 'n Bonnie: A Folktale

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Book - Hunter Foster; Music & Lyrics - Rick Crom

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4277

SHOWING : March 15, 2012 - April 15, 2012

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

America's most romantic gangsters outwit and outrun a relentless J. Edgar Hoover to the delight of the poor and downtrodden, as their relationship changes from "strictly business" to passionate romance. Funny, tuneful and historically dubious, "Clyde 'n Bonnie: A Folktale" is a good ol' musical about the bad ol' days.

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Producer's Quote

“We see the potential for tremendous growth and national recognition through fostering new musicals. How extraordinary for our patrons to get to see a show on its way to Broadway or before winning its first Tony or Drama Desk Award.”
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CAST & CREW LIST
Ensemble Greg Bosworth
Ensemble Corey Bradberry
Ensemble Kevin Dougherty
Bonnie Parker Laura Floyd
J. Edgar Hoover Bart Hansard
Martha Karen Howell
Ensemble Steven L. Hudson
Ray Hamilton Tony Larkin
Clyde Barrow J.C. Long
Ensemble Rachel Miller
Ensemble Jennifer Smiles
Buck Barrow Bryant Smith
Blanche Barrow Caitlin Smith
Ted Hinton Geoff Uterhardt
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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LEGEND -- (Wait for it)
by Dedalus
Thursday, April 12, 2012
4.5
This story is absolutely true. Only the facts have been made up.

History tells us that Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker weren’t heroes, Petty thieves and publicity hounds, they robbed and killed their way across Middle America until their May 23, 1934 ambush along a Louisiana highway. The LEGEND of Bonnie and Clyde though is quite a different story, and had its start while they were still shootin’ and stealin’ to survive the depression.

And Folk Tales are nothing if not about the Legends, the spin-doctor white-washing that makes heroes out of the lowliest scoundrels. And I, for one, have no problem with that, as long as we know what we’re seeing (*).

“Clyde ‘n’ Bonnie: A Folk Tale” is a snappy entertainment in the Bluegrass mold of “The Robber Bridegroom” – a bunch of good old folks get together in a barn somewhere to tell the story of when things were excitin’ and of the people who made them so. (In fact, truth to tell, “Clyde ‘n’ Bonnie” is so reminiscent of “Robber Bridegroom” that that 1975 musical could easily be performed with the same cast and on the same set as the show we’re seeing here.)

It’s the depths of the depression and bankers are foreclosin’ on Moms and Pops everywhere. Bonnie Parker is a waitress with a hankering for the Hollywood life. When sweet-faced Clyde steals the money she wanted to steal for herself, she goes chasing after him, and the rest is less history than legend-in-the-makin’. Clyde and Bonnie don’t really shoot anyone (on purpose), they just steal from those mean old bankers, and they’re pursued by the comically incompetent yokel lawmen and the prissily anachronistic J Edgar Hoover until their final confrontation with destiny.

And along the way, they sing and dance and joke and sorta kinda shyly find themselves maybe sorta kinda fallin’ in love.

I have to confess, in spite of its fast-and-loosin’ with history ‘n’ fact, in spite of its no-doubt intentional echoes of “Robber Bridegroom,” I really REALLY liked this show. I chalk it up to three factors – my pre-existing fondness for tall tales (and purposefully exaggerated retellings of familiar stories), the good-spirited pleasantness of the whole script with those toe-tappin’ songs that fill it to the brim (PLEASE tell me there will one day be a recording of it), and the breezy charm and don’t-take-us-too-seriousness of the players.

Let’s start with the cast. J.C. Long and Laura Floyd make a slyly charming Clyde and Bonnie – he all bluster and tongue-tied shyness, she all starry-eyed ambition and take-no-prisoners sass. They don’t really acknowledge their attraction until its almost too late (and much is made of how love makes you crazy but alive – “Loco Pero Vivo”), and their “courtship” is downright sweet. Karen Howell is Martha, our matron-of-ceremonies who is telling the story (or, I should say, is wranglin’ the townfolks to show us the story), and she is spunky and wistful, and full of the local pride that always turns a blind eye to “just the facts.” Bart Hansard plays the cross-dressing J.Edgar Hoover surprisingly straight (if you’ll pardon the expression) – it’s essentially a paper-thin one-note role based on all the innuendo about Mr. Hoover’s … um … sartorial predilections, but Mr. Hansard makes it all blithe and no-big-deal and why-would-anyone-make-a-fuss. Caitlin Smith is a full-voiced force-of-nature as Blanche Barrow, whose faux-gospel “Turn Away” shakes the house and rattles the rafters. She’s very ably matched by Bryant Smith’s hen-pecked (but still manly) Buck Barrow, whose “I See Heaven” is a delightfully silly parody of all those musical “I’m Dying” numbers sung by characters about to meet their maker. Also on hand is Googie Uterhardt as a sheriff with a bit of a crush on Bonnie, Greg Bosworth as a dimwitted deputy, Tony Larkin as Clyde’s even-more-dimwitted crony, Stephen L. Hudson as Hoover’s unflappable aide, and a multi-talented ensemble filled out by Kevin Daugherty, Rachel Miller, and Jennifer Smiles.

As to the Songs by Rick Grom, the tone is set early on with the grand and glorious “This Can’t Be It,” in which Bonnie and the chorus kvetch about the dull banality of life on the up-and-up. There’s the brilliant patter of “Run With Me,” the aforementioned “Turn Away,” “Loco Pero Vivo,” and “I See Heaven,” and host more of memorable melodies. It all comes home to roost with the “Land of Opportunity Finale” in which everyone dresses like Clyde ‘n’ Bonnie (and I DON’T have to tell you which of the two Mr. Hoover chooses). The book by actor Hunter Foster is filled with over-the-top exaggerations and silly caricatures, but there is enough heart to fill an organ donor bank, and enough witty one-liners to keep me smilin’ on through.

Director Lonny Price has given the whole thing an imaginative veneer (I just LOVED the car chases) and a gee-whiz Let’s-Put-on-a-Show innocence that I find appealing and that sells the whole “Don’t-Bring-Me-Down-With-the-Real-Story” concept, or, I should say, made me swallow the concept, hook, line, and sinker. Musical Director Ann-Carol Pence wraps it all up with her usual adeptness (she makes it all look so easy – not a simple task), though, it may have been nice to see the band as a more integral part of the goings-on.

So, to wrap this all up, let me just say that “Clyde ‘n’ Bonnie” is marvelously entertaining show, a tuneful look at how legends are made and how the criminals of the past become the heroes of the present. It’s well-acted, well-directed, well-designed (marvelous sets & lights by Phil Male and Bradley Bergeron and great period costumes by Joanna Schmink), and well worth a trip to Lawrenceville.

Now, where was I? Oh Yes …

… DARY!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

* Which is the difference between this and the whole kerfuffle about monologist Mike Daisy’s Steve Jobs piece – Mr. Daisy puts himself out as an “observer” of social trends and events, and, as such, has to indulge in “dramatic license” with a bit more discretion and forbearance than someone coming out and saying, “I’m tellin’ a whopper of a tale, and I hope you like it!”

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Buttons
by playgoer
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
4.5
"Clyde 'n Bonnie: A Folktale" shows the hallmarks of professional direction. Action moves smoothly, lines are pointed to make their utmost impact, and each musical number is ended with an unmistakable button that triggers the audience to applaud. Lonny Price has done a fine job of shaping the material of Hunter Foster (book) and Rick Crom (songs) to create an entertaining evening of breathlessly active musical enjoyment.

Is it perfect? No. Hunter Foster's book occasionally goes for the easy joke at the expense of the South or J. Edgar Hoover, and Rick Crom's songs are often more busy than memorable. The only song I think really needs replacement or reworking, though, is Bonnie's second act ballad, "No Goin' Back." It doesn't have enough melodic power to hold its own at that point in the show.

Performances are all good or better. (I especially liked Greg Bosworth as Ennis Butz.) Casting, however, doesn't always seem to be on the mark. Karen Howell, who has the looks of a spry Angela Lansbury, is cast as Martha, a small-town, slatterny restaurant owner. She's very good, but her look doesn't scream "Texas." J.C. Long is a bit slick and dapper as Clyde, while Laura Floyd is a bit matronly as Bonnie; both, however, have tremendous, powerful voices that do the score full justice.

The set design by Phil Male covers the full stage area at Aurora with the skeleton of a barn. It's attractive, functional, and works both to convey a rural Texas atmosphere and a barn theatre where the folktale is supposedly being given its umpteenth performance. Bradeley Bergeron's lighting focuses attention appropriately on individual scenes without drawing attention to itself. Bobby Johnston's sound design relies on over-miking, as so many shows do these days, so anticipate hearing sound from peripheral speakers instead of from the ably projecting actors onstage.

Joanna Schmink's costume plot assigns new dresses to Martha and Bonnie in act two, and I think that is a large mistake. Single costumes would work fine, since this is supposedly a local, low-budget production, and the dresses bring too much attention to themselves. We should be brought back into the story at the start of act two, not made to consider the actresses as actresses getting a costume change. Other than that, the costumes work well. The serapes and Mexican hats for one scene are colorful, and the Bonnie/Clyde costumes for the ensemble in the finale are fun.

Choreography by Josh Rhodes keeps the pace moving. The highlight is the mass tap number of the finale, but there is choreographed fun throughout. "Fun" is the key word here. The plot has silliness embedded in it, while still allowing a relationship to build between Clyde and Bonnie, not culminating in any sort of romance until act two.

The movie "Bonnie and Clyde" is a cinematic masterpiece, but don't expect anything like its impact from "Clyde 'n Bonnie: A Folktale." There is only one moment that brings the movie to mind, and that is the climactic death scene. The movie went for slo-mo at this point; the musical goes for no-mo, with only the soundtrack of bullets signifying the mayhem of Bonnie and Clyde's demise. With a cheery finale following hard on its heels, any taste of tragedy is quickly dismissed. Fun trumps all in this production. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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