They made a name for themselves back in the 30s and now Bonnie and Clyde returns to the West End with its second run at the Garrick Theatre after wowing audiences at the Arts Theatre and with live staged concerts.
This production provides an entertaining insight (even if not a historically accurate one) into the lives of the two most notorious killers of the 1930s. After dying in one of the most dramatic and colourful manhunts the country had ever seen, what better characters to develop into the next West End hit?
Jordan Luke Gage as Clyde Barrow and Frances Mayli McCann as Bonnie Parker give an excellent portrayal of the cold-blooded killers, managing to round the characters into dynamic and complex humans whilst maintaining an air of manic energy.
The story is one that is already known, and with little to add to the historical tale, the book keeps it straight-forward and allows the cast, chemistry and score to do the talking. It’s the energy and relationship between Bonnie and Clyde that is so fascinating, which teamed with the tangible chemistry of Gage and McCann, and their powerhouse vocals, makes for a well-paced and engaging production.
All the vocals are on point with Jordan Luke Gage’s rousing rendition of Raise a Little Hell and Frances Mayli McCann’s beautifully tender How ‘Bout a Dance? We are also treated to a particularly memorable duet of You Love Who You Love from the two female leads whose harmonies melted together and resonated around the walls of the Garrick.
The soundtrack brings a twist on the classic musical theatre sound with hints of blues, jazz, gospel and rock producing some great numbers such as This World Will Remember Me, Picture Show, Made in America and Too Late to Turn Back Now.
Despite the not-so-cheery storyline of this musical, there are plenty of gags and lighter moments to balance the darker themes. Jodie Steele steals the limelight when it comes to comedic moments, her timing and delivery as brash Blanche Barrow is impeccable and have the audience cracking up on cue.
George Maguire returns as Buck Barrow and Cleve September is cast again as Ted Hinton, the Bonnie-infatuated police officer who fails to keep Bonnie from her demise. I’d like this character to have been developed slightly more as I wanted to feel for him more but unfortunately, he doesn’t feature as often as needed.
It is also a little disappointing to not quite have the full all-singing-all-dancing scene of Bonnie and Clyde coming to the end of the road. Instead, audiences are left with a blackout, some gun shot sound effects and their imagination to create the scene which should be the crescendo in this story.
Despite this not pleasing all the critics, the audience doesn’t lie and being voted by public for Best New Musical at the What’s On Stage Awards 2022 speaks volumes. With Bonnie and Clyde moving from the Arts Theatre to the Garrick, the connection with its rapidly growing fan base will continue to blossom as the show itself has.