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“This world will remember me,” Bonnie and Clyde sing to each other in Kokandy Productions’ presentation of “Bonnie & Clyde” – a musical. Directed by Spencer Neiman, this odd-ball musical makes its area premiere after an unsuccessful Broadway run in 2011. This production also marks the fifth anniversary of Kokandy Productions, now a regular staple of Chicago’s storefront theater scene.

“Bonnie & Clyde” was developed in 2009 by La Jolla Playhouse in California, a frequent incubator for new Broadway work. The show opened officially on Broadway in 2011, but closed after 36 performances. Critics were not especially kind.

Even though it’s not a direct adaptation, it’s nearly impossible not to compare this musical to Arthur Penn’s stylish 1967 film. It’s an American film classic with iconic performances by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. It’s widely considered a turning point in American cinema. The film was focused less on historical accuracy and more on drawing comparisons between the young outlaws and the political awakening of the late 60s. The musical tends to tread on the same territory as Penn’s film but in a less dynamic way.

The issue is camp. Penn’s film is mostly devoid of camp even some fifty years later. “Bonnie & Clyde” the musical feels like two hours of pure kitsch. There’s no discernable reason this story needed to be told to music and unfortunately the empty songs prove that. Neiman’s cast seems to forget that these characters were indeed real people and not cartoon characters to be parodied. The nature of the material isn’t especially satirical, but this cast has decided it is.

Missy Wise as Blanche Barrow pretty much steals the show with her number ‘You’re Goin’ Back to Jail’, but the whole thing feels a bit Disney-fied, considering that the real Blanche Barrow served time for armed robbery.

The two leads Desiree Gonzales and Max Detogne are both incredible performers. Detogne’s voice is perfectly suited for the country-tinged folk rock of Frank Wildhorn’s music. Gonzalas also has a strong voice and makes some genuine choices for Bonnie Parker, adding a real dimension to her that isn’t otherwise in the script. The generic “I-wish” song feels sincere with Gonzalas singing. You will remember her, just like Clara Bow. Detogne also makes it his own. There’s a chemistry between the two that really translates.

If you were just dying to see “Bonnie & Clyde” during its Broadway run in 2011, Kokandy offers up a serviceable production. If you were hoping to gain more knowledge about the infamous star-crossed outlaws, you may be impressed at what playwright Ivan Menchel spins into his version of “Bonnie & Clyde.”

Through October 15 at Kokandy Productions. Theatre Wit 1229 West Belmont Ave.

 

Published in Theatre Reviews

Kokandy Productions is pleased to announce casting for its Chicago premiere of BONNIE & CLYDE, the musical story of two small-town nobodies searching for meaning at the height of the Great Depression from the creative team of Frank Wildhorn, Ivan Menchell and Don Black. 
 
BONNIE & CLYDE will feature Desiree Gonzalez as Bonnie, Max DeTogne as Clyde, Missy Wise as Blanche and Cisco Lopez as Buck. The cast also includes Patrick Tierney as Ted, Nathan Carroll as Preacher, Tia L. Pinson as Young Bonnie, Jeff Pierpoint as Young Clyde and Sarah Hayes as Emma, with an ensemble including Brittney Brown, Erin Creighton, Ann Delaney, Jacob Fjare, Jon Patrick Penick, Maisie Rose and Jonathan Schwart.
 
Directed by Spencer Neiman, with music direction by Allison Hendrix and choreography by Aubrey Adams, BONNIE & CLYDE will play August 27 – October 15, 2017 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at www.kokandyproductions.com, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office. The press opening is Saturday, September 2 at 8 pm.
 
BONNIE & CLYDE centers on real-life Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the ill-fated lovers and outlaws whose story has been infamous since they achieved folk hero status at the height of the Great Depression. Fearless, shameless and alluring, the Tony Award-nominated musical from the legendary Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, Civil War, Dracula) is the electrifying story of love, adventure and crime that captured the attention of an entire country, with a non-traditional score featuring blues, gospel and rockabilly music.
 
The world premiere of BONNIE & CLYDE was presented at La Jolla Playhouse in 2009, and transferred to Broadway in 2011. There, it was nominated for three Outer Critics Circle Awards and five Drama Desk Awards (both including Best New Musical), as well as two 2012 Tony Awards nominations.
 
The production team for BONNIE & CLYDE includes: Ashley Ann Woods (scenic design), Robert S. Kuhn (costume design), Alexander Ridgers (lighting design), Michael J. Patrick (sound design), Jaq Seifert (violence/intimacy design), Lindsay Brown (production manager) and Kait Samuels (stage manager).
 
PRODUCTION DETAILS:
 
Title: BONNIE & CLYDE
Book: Ivan Menchel
Music: Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics: Don Black
Director: Spencer Neiman
Music Director: Allison Hendrix
Choreographer: Aubrey Adams
Cast: Brittney Brown (Stella), Nathan Carroll (Preacher), Erin Creighton (Cumie), Ann Delaney (Trish), Max DeTogne (Clyde), Jacob Fjare (Bud), Desiree Gonzalez (Bonnie), Sarah Hayes (Emma), Cisco Lopez (Buck), Jon Patrick Penick (Henry), Jeff Pierpoint (Young Clyde), Tia L. Pinson (Young Bonnie), Maisie Rose (Eleanor), Jonathan Schwart (Sheriff), Patrick Tierney (Ted) and Missy Wise (Blanche).
 
Location: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago
Dates: Previews: Sunday, August 27 at 7 pm, Monday, August 28 at 7 pm, Thursday, August 31 at 8 pm and Friday, September 1 at 8 pm
Regular run: Sunday, September 3 – Sunday, October 15, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will be added matinee performances on Saturday, September 30 at 3 pm, Saturday, October 7 at 3 pm and Saturday, October 14 at 3 pm.
Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $33 - $38. Tickets are currently available at www.kokandyproductions.com, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office.

 

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