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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
BONNIE & CLYDE
at the Schoenfeld

STICK 'EM UP
By MATT WINDMAN

  Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes/ Ph: Nathan Johnson

To say that Bonnie & Clyde is the best musical to date composed by Frank Wildhorn, whose previous works include the cult hit Jekyll & Hyde and countless flops like Wonderland and Dracula, is still not saying very much and is barely a compliment.

Although Bonnie & Clyde is not a formal adaptation of the classic 1967 film of the same name, it too dramatizes the famous story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the iconic criminal couple who gained fame during the Great Depression for their string of bank robberies.

This really had the potential to be an entertaining, action-packed musical. Yet in spite of a mostly pleasant country-and-blues score and strong, very sexy performances from the doll-face Laura Osnes (who gets to show off her abs) and heartthrob Jeremy Jordan, this remains a very problematic show that lacks focus and tends to pause and meander too often.

Bonnie and Clyde are depicted as young, innocent dreamers (she wants to be a movie star, he wants to be the next John Dillinger) who are scarred by poverty and an oppressive social climate. But by trying to justify their crimes, it simplifies the psychological elements that made the Arthur Penn film so gripping and reduces the characters to cardboard cutouts.

In one key difference from the film, Clyde is not depicted as impotent. Also, a straight-laced police officer (Louis Hobson) smitten for Bonnie is added as a dull character.   

The show’s opening is particularly bad. After Bonnie and Clyde are seen motionless and bloodied up after being killed at gunpoint, two kids proceed to play their younger selves until they are finally replaced by Osnes and Jordan.  

Jeff Calhoun’s intimate production, which projects images of the real-life Bonnie and Clyde in the background of the wooden-plank set, is handsome but takes the violence to a garish extreme: Blood is seen gushing out of victims and the gun shots are extraordinarily loud.

Nevertheless, Osnes and Jordan prove to be genuine stage stars. Jordan recently starred in the world premiere of Newsies, which will transfer to Broadway in the spring and is quickly becoming one of the hottest males in town. Osnes, who won the role of Sandy in the most recent Broadway revival of Grease, has since appeared in South Pacific and Anything Goes. Together, they convincingly depict a couple whose reckless passions caused their notorious crimes and inevitable fate.    

 


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