Beavercreek Theatre joins the Barrow Gang with Bonnie and Clyde: The Musical

Flanders and T.J. Montgomery as Clyde (right) in Beavercreek Theatre’s Bonnie and Clyde; photo: Rick Flynn

By Tim Smith

Break out the bootleg gin, put on your pappy’s fedora, and fire up the Ford Model A. The Barrow Gang is back in town! You can catch the romance and violence in the Beavercreek Community Theatre production of Bonnie and Clyde: The Musical.

This is a stage interpretation of the folklore surrounding Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, two bank robbers during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Their reckless behavior helped them to achieve cult hero status among everyday folks who had been financially wiped out by the stock market crash of 1929. The story had previously been the subject of a classic 1967 film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Coincidentally, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the film that will return to movie theatres across the country in August.

The play was written by Ivan Menchell and features a score, composed by Frank Wildhorn with lyrics by Don Black. It debuted on Broadway in December 2011, but it failed to impress the critics and closed after four weeks. This presentation by the Beavercreek Community Theatre, under their production banner Edge of the Creek, is the local premiere.

The audience is first introduced to the ill-fated couple as teenagers, when we see the similarities in their Depression-era upbringing. Both of their families were forced to give up farms in Texas in exchange for a life of poverty and handouts. Both of them have aspirations of something bigger. Bonnie dreams of becoming a glamorous movie star, while Clyde idolizes Billy the Kid, hoping to become the next Al Capone. Contrasting Clyde’s criminal ambitions is his brother, Buck, who would rather walk a straight line after being incarcerated. Buck’s wife, Blanche, who fancies herself as a good Christian woman, works hard to keep him on the right path, but eventually follows him into what would become The Barrow Gang.

When the two protagonists first meet, it doesn’t take long for the glam-obsessed Bonnie to have her head turned by charming bad-boy Clyde. The attraction is mutual and incendiary. Before you can say, “Well, shut my mouth!” she embarks on a wild spree of robberies with him. Along the way, they become heroes to people who feel cheated by the Wall Street moneygrubbers. In an amusing running gag, Bonnie signs autographs for the people they hold up and writes poems about her and Clyde’s exploits.

The play is presented as an operetta, where the music tells the story and the dialogue is kept to a minimum. Each song opens the curtain on the characters a little at a time until we see full daylight, revealing what really drives them. The opening number, “Picture Show,” juxtaposes young Bonnie and the adolescent Clyde with their adult counterparts, expressing their desires to shake off the dust of rural Texas for big city concrete. Love is depicted in tunes like “You Love Who You Love” and “Too Late to Turn Back Now.” The jazzy blues number, “Now That’s What You Call a Dream,” deftly summarizes an ideal relationship. A sobering social statement is presented in the ensemble number “Made In America” that accurately depicts the country in the throes of poverty.

Other highlights of the score include “How ’Bout a Dance” and the emotional lament “Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad,” both performed by Bonnie. They help explain why she’s attracted to a career criminal and a life spent eluding the law. Clyde voices his motivations in the song “Raise a Little Hell,” and the compelling duet “This World Will Remember Me” sums up the dreams of both characters.

Award-winning director and scenic designer Chris Harmon has mounted an atmospheric production that is true to period detail. The use of vintage newspaper headlines, wanted posters, and photographs projected on a backdrop sets the timeline for each event. The pit band, under the direction of Jenn Clark, handles the multi-faceted score well, setting the right tone. A spoiler alert for fans of the movie: If you’re expecting to hear Flatt and Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” you’ll be disappointed.

The principal cast includes Kami Flanders as Bonnie Parker, T.J. Montgomery as Clyde Barrow, Sam Hamilton as Buck Barrow, Jackie Darnell as Blanche Barrow, Micah Koverman as young Clyde, and Reese Hornick as young Bonnie. The on-stage chemistry between Flanders and Montgomery reaches beyond the footlights and pulls you in, making you care about the characters. Hamilton and Darnell are convincing as the married half of the gang, and they provide some of the lighter moments in an otherwise dramatic story.

The entire ensemble cast is up to the task of essaying multiple roles while showcasing their singing chops. Of particular note is Josh Clifford as The Preacher, who possesses a booming voice, well suited for the part. He also portrays a cigar-chomping Texas Ranger assigned to track down the gang. A special nod goes to Aaron Brewer as the local sheriff who carries a torch for Bonnie but knows that he has to bring her in.

This is an entertaining production brought to life by a talented group, both on stage and off. Patrons are advised that the show contains adult themes and language, as well as strong lighting and sound effects.

Beavercreek Community Theatre’s Bonnie and Clyde: The Musical takes the stage through June 25 at the Lofino Center, 3868 Dayton-Xenia Rd. in Beavercreek. Show is at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors. For tickets or more information, please call 937.429.4737 or visit BCTheatre.org.

Tags: , , ,

Tim Smith
Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Law & Disorder: The Docket 9/19

L&D

Major key Last weekend a local couple was watching TV in their living room, having a relaxing evening, when suddenly […]

Law & Disorder: The Docket 9/12

L&D

Jesus take the wheel A local couple recently decided to visit their church on a particularly warm and muggy Sunday […]

Law & Disorder: The Docket 9/5

L&D

Flightless In a local park, police were dispatched to the crime scene. A woman called the police when she realized […]

The Docket: 8/29

285_2697643

Stolen in a nanosecond Just last week a woman visited her local sheriff’s office to place a tip on a […]

Law & Disorder: The Docket 8/22

L&D

Totally secure knot …not In a local home a garage door was broken into. This garage door was perfectly secured […]