Home » London Theatre Reviews » Bonnie & Clyde The Musical: Filmed Live | Review

Bonnie & Clyde The Musical: Filmed Live | Review

I don’t attend one or two night only concert versions of musicals in London very often these days, partly because there are so many of them. Additionally, the feedback from other theatre patrons is that the quality of the production is highly variable from one concert to the next, and some people have opted to leave a concert at the interval because the sound was so poor they had no idea what was being sung or spoken. At the other end of the scale are staged concerts like Bonnie & Clyde The Musical: Filmed Live, which goes far beyond what a ‘musical in concert’ used to be like – and sometimes still is. This is not a production where a bunch of actors have been hired for the day and take to the stage in their own clothes, standing behind lecterns and reading from scripts in ring binders.

Frances Mayli McCann (Bonnie) and Jeremy Jordan (Clyde). Photo credit: The Other Richard.
Frances Mayli McCann (Bonnie) and Jeremy Jordan (Clyde). Photo credit: The Other Richard.

Indeed, there are aspects of this concert version that I prefer to the most recent full production I saw earlier this year – for instance, the use of child actors to play younger versions of the title characters added nuance and context to the overall storyline. Without giving too much away, certain scenes and lines weren’t in this filmed version, and one’s enjoyment of proceedings didn’t suffer for it: they can, frankly, disappear from any future full production as well!

The audience were very enthusiastic, to the point where there were mid-song rounds of applause, as though this were one of those glorified karaoke contests on Saturday night television. Or indeed a concert, which is precisely what this was. It was, however, far closer to a fully staged production than word ‘concert’ might suggest, with costumes, set and props – guns, police uniforms, choreographed dances, and so on. The brief shots captured by the camera crew of the audience show a considerable number wearing face masks, a reminder of how different the world was like not so long ago – and indeed, not so long before that, when the theatres were closed.

Had this been a Stephen Sondheim musical, I would imagine it might have been more satirical, like his musical Assassins, which sheds light on how some parts of American society seem to celebrate those who have shot presidents, although they are essentially murderers. Similar themes emerge in this musical nonetheless, such as the craving of public attention and dissatisfaction with how ‘the American Dream’ turned out for the characters. With regards to the former, Bonnie Parker (Frances Mayli McCann) states empathically her desire to be a poet, actress and singer, and with regards to the latter, she pushes back against Blanche Barrow’s (Natalie McQueen) thankfulness to be on “God’s good earth”. The opening number in the second act, ‘Made in America’ implies people like Bonnie and Clyde (Jeremy Jordan) effectively had no choice but the turn to crime, or else such were the lack of employment prospects and the sheer poverty of so many people at the time.

Being a filmed recording, you can, of course, not bother pausing the stream to take an interval and watch the whole thing in a single sitting. I found myself doing just that as I was sufficiently engaged with what I was seeing not to require a break. The performances are top notch throughout. Trevor Dion Nicholas’ Preacher had a marvellous stage presence. McQueen’s Blanche had exquisite comic timing for a character that seemed quite plain at face value, a regular church attendee who perennially attempts to persuade her husband Buck (George Maguire) as well as Bonnie and Clyde to turn themselves in. Jordan’s Clyde had, when it came to robbing a bank, the kind of confidence-exuding cool swagger that is almost admirable (and indeed would have been, if he wasn’t, you know, robbing a bank). But elsewhere he demonstrates a vulnerability in some private moments with Bonnie that is just as convincing.

Not that there is too much to see at any one time when seeing Bonnie & Clyde The Musical in person, but here, watching whatever the camera is focused on makes for a ‘sit back and relax’ experience. With beautiful harmonies, featherlight humour and a talented cast, it’s a couple of hours of gritty and gratifying theatre. As a lyric in the show puts it, “You’ll lose the blues / And you may lose your heart”.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

CAST
Clyde Barrow – Jeremy Jordan
Bonnie Parker – Frances Mayli McCann
Stella – Casey Al-Shaqsy
Bud/Archie – Simon Anthony
Cumie Barrow – Gillian Bevan
Trish – Eloise Davies
Henry Barrow – Adrian Grove
Governor Miriam Ferguson/Eleanore – Debbie Kurup
Buck Barrow – George Maguire
Bob Alcorn – Matthew Malthouse
Blanche Barrow – Natalie McQueen
Preacher – Trevor Dion Nichoals
Sheriff Schmid – Jeremy Secombe
Captain Frank Hamer – Russell Wilcox
Emma Parker – Julie Yammanee
Young Bonnie – Bea Ward
Young Clyde – Albert Atack

CREATIVES
Music – Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics – Don Black
Book – Ivan Menchell
Director – Nick Winston
Musical Director – Katy Richardson
Assistant Director – Alexzandra Sarmiento
Lighting Design – Zoe Spurr
Set and Costume Design – Philip Whitcomb
Sound Design – Tom Marshall

Bonnie & Clyde The Musical is the story of two small-town kids from the middle of nowhere who became the biggest folk heroes in all America. They craved adventure – and each other. Fearless, shameless, and alluring, this is the electrifying story of love, adventure and crime that captured the attention of an entire nation.

David Treatman Creative presents in association with STEAM Motion and Sound
BONNIE & CLYDE THE MUSICAL: FILMED LIVE
Visit https://bonnieclydelive.com/ to stream online on demand

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