Bonnie and Clyde at the Arts Theatre – evaluate

Frank Wildhorn, Don Black and Ivan Menchell’s musical Bonnie and Clyde has arrived in the West Stop with a bang, after more than a decade’s wait around. The present, 1st noticed in San Diego in 2009 right before a very short (36 typical performances) run on Broadway, has developed a large cult supporter foundation due to the fact, evidenced by this year’s live performance creation promoting out the Theatre Royal Drury Lane two times around. Now, it has its to start with totally staged West Conclude operate at the Arts Theatre.

Primarily based rather on the true historical past of the well known outlaws, we observe the pair from their childhood dreams (her a motion picture star, him a Billy the Kid wannabe) to their to start with assembly and, inevitably, their capture and dying. Alongside the protagonists’ tale we see snippets of the time’s economic depression in numbers this sort of as “Manufactured in The united states”, which gives some context as to why the Barrow brothers in distinct have turned to a daily life of criminal offense.

Wildhorn and Black’s songs are the lynchpin of the display, encompassing a selection of kinds from gospel (“God’s Arms Are Always Open up”, that includes amazing vocals from Ako Mitchell) to state together with a number of heartfelt ballads. Menchell’s e book, on the other hand, lets the side down rather. Scenes often feel like filler in between tunes, and make fairly major leaps for characters. We understand Bonnie would like to be a motion picture star, but it would not completely make clear her leap into a lifetime of crime. Likewise, Blanche Barrow’s involvement with the gang feels unexpected looking at her character’s complete arc is to be “the ideal human being she can be”. There is certainly a subplot about Bonnie-loving Sheriff Ted which is specified a lot more bodyweight than it should really. The demonstrate neither glamourises Bonnie and Clyde nor helps make you really feel like you thoroughly comprehend their choices outside of the egotistical notion of fame. They are just as considerably a thriller – a legend – as when we to start with fulfill them.

Regardless of these guide-relevant quibbles, this is an exceptional generation firing on all cylinders. In the titular roles, Frances Mayli McCann (reprising the part of Bonnie from the Drury Lane live performance) and Jordan Luke Gage glow. McCann presents Bonnie the edge she demands to guarantee she’s not just an ingenue, but has designed these hazardous selections herself, with a silky smooth voice ideal showcased in the solo numbers “How ‘Bout a Dance?” and “Dyin’ Ain’t So Negative”. She’s a bonafide star who justifies to clean up at the next awards year, and makes clear why “Bonnie” ought to occur initially in the duo’s identify. Gage, with his Cheshire cat smile and huge unflinching eyes, is possibly a lot more creepy than charming but is vocally unbelievably remarkable as motor vehicle-loving criminal Clyde Barrow. There is certainly a actual grit to his voice, specially in act one’s prison-busting “Increase a Very little Hell” and his potent duet with brother Buck (George Maguire), “When I Generate”, is thrilling (also because of to director-choreographer Nick Winston’s clean choreography).

McCann and Gage have very good chemistry, actively playing up to the juvenile nature of the pair’s relationship which takes advantage of battling as foreplay. The demonstrate practically plays like a dim intimate-comedy, with Winston which includes a visual reference to Fairly Woman, although exchanging diamonds for guns. There may also be a Heathers reference for eagle-eyed admirers.

Supporting and ensemble performances are similarly as good – props to Jim Arnold CDG and Keston and Keston for assembling these kinds of a great solid. Natalie McQueen presents a comedy masterclass as Blanche Barrow, her efficiency of “You are Goin’ Back again to Jail” is hilarious, as are her quips (“You are not able to arrest a man for acquiring mail”), but she also provides on these softer times these types of as in the duet “You Like Who You Really like” with McCann (most likely one of the most effective woman duets in musical theatre). Maguire is solid as Buck Barrow, pulled amongst a existence of crime and a existence of domesticity.

The Arts is a really modest theatre, and it can be remarkable fairly how substantially set designer Philip Witcomb has managed to increase to the space, from the pair’s notorious (unmoving) car to prison bars and bedroom/rest room furniture. It’s ambitious and can glimpse a very little clunky at instances, however just one can only imagine how impressive the present would glance if scaled up in a larger sized location… fingers crossed. Nina Dunn’s video projections incorporate depth to the room, although from time to time considerably less could be much more, and Zoe Spurr’s gunshot lighting together with Tom Marshall’s seem design gives a high-octane start off to the present.

It can be so wonderful to see this significantly-liked musical have its moment right after such a prolonged hold out – let us hope it proceeds to increase a tiny hell in the West Close for more time than its scheduled run.