Review: Bonnie & Clyde – Hayes Theatre (NSW)

Book by Ivan Menchall, Lyrics by Don Black, Music by Frank Wildhorn, Directed by Sam Hooper

Reviewed by Justin Clarke

You’ve heard their names, you may know their story, now witness their musical. Bonnie & Clyde gunned its way into the Hayes Theatre on Tuesday evening to standing ovations. Boasting Broadway-level vocals, an intelligently designed set, and an infamous tale of love, death and fame, Bonnie & Clyde is a thrill ride from start to finish.

With a book by Ivan Menchall and music by Frank Wildhorn, Bonnie & Clyde focuses on the infamous criminal duo Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and their life of crime. From their initial meeting on the side of a road with Bonnie’s broken-down car, to their final moments running from the law, Menchall and Wildhorn’s project lives and dies on the two lead performers.

Luckily for director Sam Hooper the production at the Hayes Theatre is in safe hands with its two stellar leads. Blake Appelqvist and Teagan Wouters are perfect casting as Barrow and Parker. Despite the scripts’ rush to have the pair meet, Wouters and Appelqvist waste no time in producing palpable chemistry between them.

Wouters’ Bonnie is fame-hungry and sure of herself, with a keen knack for writing poetry. Wouter’s voice is silky smooth and aptly reflects Bonnie’s shift from small town girl with her eye on Hollywood, to criminal outlaw with a lioness’ protection of her partner. Her belt in ‘Dying Ain’t So Bad’ floors you and proves why Wouters is one of Sydney’s most sought-after performers.

Appelqvist’s portrayal of Clyde Barrow is as though the role were specifically written for them. Their first riff in the opening number made you shift in your seat, lean forward and pay attention. Their number, ‘Raise a Little Hell’ sent literal shivers down your spine as their impressive vocals filled the Hayes Theatre space from wall to wall. Backing up these impressive pipes was Appelqvist’s charming southern drawl that could have easily melted the coldest of hearts. To quote the show, you will remember their name.

If you go for nothing else but to witness Wouters & Appelqvist, you’re sure to have a time so good it’s almost criminal.

Supporting the production are the likes of Milo Hartill’s Blanche Barrow, who stole every scene she was in, whether it was through a subtle but impressive vocal riff, or her great comedic timing. Kieran McGrath as Marvin ‘Buck’ Barrow played off each actor he was paired with easily, be it his brother Clyde in ‘When I Drive’ or his dutiful relationship with his wife, Blanche. Darcy Fisher and Luisa Scrofani as young Bonnie and Clyde made small but memorable appearances, and Sarah Murr’s comedic timing showed how to make the most of what is given in a script.

Designers Simon Greer and James Wallis created a stunning piece of theatre that helped boost this performance beyond its restraints. Greer’s jigsaw-styled set of wooden pallets made for some incredibly imaginative and effective transitions; lumps of wood were slid in and out to become tables, beds, banks and even the infamous duo’s car. Aided by Wallis’ lighting design, the set became as expansive or intimate as was needed.

The only hinderance to the whole production, despite the teams’ best efforts, was the script itself. Choices in storytelling tended to move quickly and not allow time to develop organically (Parker and Barrow’s relationship being one of them) and other character choices make no sense – Blanche’s ultimatum to her criminal husband quickly fell to crumbs to continue the elongated story. Despite this, the show sells itself on the music of Wildhorn and its two leads. There are chunky golden nuggets to take from this production; the celebration of identity and commitment to love with an updated, modern representation of the world today being one of them.

Bonnie & Clyde may not have the most depth when it comes to storytelling, but this production is nonetheless a solid creation that continues the Hayes Theatre’s tradition of imagination and ingenuity when it comes to design. If you go for nothing else but to witness Wouters & Appelqvist, you’re sure to have a time so good it’s almost criminal.

Reviewer Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Images: Grant Leslie Photography

Bonnie and Clyde plays at the Hayes Theatre until 17th July. Tickets can be booked here.

PERFORMANCES
Tues – Sat 7:30 pm
Sat 2:00 pm
Sun 5:00 pm
Thu 7 July 1:00 pm

RUNNING TIME
Approximately 2 hour 20 minutes – including interval

Content Warning: This production contains death, violence, domestic violence, sexual references, haze, strobe, loud noises and use of imitation guns.

CREATIVES
Director & Choreographer Sam Hooper
Music Director Zara Stanton
Assistant Director Julia Robertson
Assistant Music Director Ned Wright Smith
Production Manager Anna Sinclair
Set Designer Simon Greer
Lighting Designer James Wallis
Costume Designer Claudia Kryszkiewicz
Sound Designer Andrew Foster
Casting Consultant Rhys Velasquez
Casting Director Lynne Ruthven
Stage Manager Liz Jameson
Assistant Stage Manager Vanessa Purnama & Alexandra Longiudice

CAST
Teagan Wouters and Blake Appelqvist
Carlo Boumouglbay, Jonathan Chan, Darcy Fisher, Lewis Francis, Deborah Galanos, Milo Hartill, Kieran McGrath, Lucy Miller, William Motunuu, Sarah Murr, Caity Plummer, Sam Richardson, Luisa Scrofani and Jim Williams.


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