“Bonnie & Clyde” Tear Up Stage At New Line With Bullets And Ballads

Matt Pentecost and Larissa White as "Bonnie & Clyde" at New Line. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Matt Pentecost and Larissa White as “Bonnie & Clyde” at New Line. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Let’s play word association- you know, I give you a word or phrase and you say the first thing that pops into your head. “Scott Miller.” Now you say “Frank Wildhorn.” Not in a million years, you say? Well, the world must be coming to an end because New Line Theatre is producing a Frank Wildhorn show but it’s not like any you’ve seen (or more importantly, heard) before- “Bonnie & Clyde.” Although it lasted only four weeks on Broadway, Scott Miller always seems to breath new life into shows that meet that kind of fate. This one is a fast-paced, toe-tapping romp through the lives of these two outlaw lovers who captured the public’s fascination during America’s depression and made heroes out of two inept, small time thieves who eventually became killers as well.

Frank Wildorn has obviously put together a musical score that is a perfect fit with the story and his country/bluegrass take makes for a spirited sound that lifts the story into much the same realm that the famous film did back in the ’60’s. Frequent Andrew Lloyd Webber contributor, Don Black has provided appropriate lyrics and Ivan Menchell’s book focuses on the lovers and their families and shows how misguided these two truly were. It makes for a great companion piece to the new kids on the block, the November Theatre Company and their production of “Assassins” playing its final week-end in town. Lots of gunfire and whacked out psychology that wreaks havoc on everyone who stands in their way.

Zak Farmer leads the congregation in "Bonnie & Clyde" at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Zak Farmer leads the congregation in “Bonnie & Clyde” at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

The cast, as usual, is simply first rate. Bonnie and Clyde are both making their New Line debuts and what a wonderful chemistry they display. Larissa White, a willowy and winsome Bonnie Parker wins our heart from the start and displays a phenomenal singing voice along with a strong acting performance. As Clyde Barrow, Matt Pentecost simply shines on both levels as well. There’s electricity on stage whenever they’re together and their steam warmed up a nippy opening night in the theatre.

Brendan Ochs as Buck Barrow and Matt Pentecost as Clyde in "Bonnie & Clyde" at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Brendan Ochs as Buck Barrow and Matt Pentecost as Clyde in “Bonnie & Clyde” at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Brendan Ochs and Sarah Porter make another strong couple as Clyde’s brother Buck and his wife, Blanche. Always in and out of jail (usually breaking out), Clyde and Buck are a worry to their respective mates until Bonnie eventually delights in the fame they’re gathering. Reynaldo Arceno shows off his pipes as one of Bonnie’s more respectable suitors, Ted Hinton. A lawman bent on putting both Barrow brothers behind bars, he never gives up his pursuit of their heads and Bonnie’s heart. New Line veteran, Zachary Allen Farmer, continues to amaze with his splendid singing voice and an actor who continually has a twinkle in his eye. In this one, he’s the fire and brimstone preacher who tries to tame the town as well as these displaced lovers. His two big numbers, “God’s Arms Are Always Open” and the second act opener, “Made In America,” are highlights in a show filled with special moments.

Larissa White charms Matt Pentecost in New Line's "Bonnie & Clyde." Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Larissa White charms Matt Pentecost in New Line’s “Bonnie & Clyde.” Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Sharing the spotlight in supporting roles are a handful of wonderful new and established New Line performers. Kimi Short and Joel Hackbarth are superb as the long-suffering parents of Clyde while Alison Helmer turns in a great performance as Bonnie’s unforgiving mother. Christopher “Zany” Clark (must be an interesting story about that nickname) is strong as the local sheriff while Mara Bollini is a riot in a short but memorable moment at the governor. Kent Coffel has a few chest and desk pounding moments as a Texas Ranger and the rest in that long list of featured players include Christopher Strawhun, Marshall Jennings, Ann Hier and Nellie Mitchell.

The new New Line band is impressive indeed headed up by Jeffrey Richard Carter. In sight at the back of the stage, Mr. Carter is as entertaining as the on stage cast as he directs the band with subtle yet striking hand gestures and head nods. As mentioned, the score is an impressive one and includes an outstanding opening sequence (where we see what is really the finale) and it leads into “Picture Show” and “This World Will Remember Me” where Bonnie and Clyde envision two different outcomes to a life leading to fame and fortune. Clyde and Buck share a special, frenetic moment in “When I Drive” and the beautiful love duet, “You Love Who You Love” features Bonnie and Blanche accepting the mates they have chosen in life. The gorgeous “What Was Good Enough For You” could easily have been called the “Bonnie and Clyde Waltz”- it’s a wonderful stage moment that takes on a dream sequence quality.

Clyde Barrow goes on a robbing spree in "Bonnie & Clyde" at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Clyde Barrow goes on a robbing spree in “Bonnie & Clyde” at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

The incredible Rob Lippert has outdone himself with a scenic and lighting design that fit like a glove into the show’s theme and beauty. The front of a ’30’s roadster dominates the backstage area as it opens up on a highway that splits the stage. Henry Barrow’s gas station, the subtle backdrop of a bank, barbershop, sheriff’s office and jail cell are all appropriately tucked into place. The brilliant lights featuring a lot of red and stark whites along with the flashes of gunfire that fill the stage are incredible. Sarah Porter and Marcy Wiegert’s costumes are beautifully realized and Tim Ceradsky’s sound just adds to the thrills and chills of “Bonnie & Clyde.”

Directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy bring it all together for another entertaining and fun-filled show. As I mentioned, we see the fate of the murderous lovers as the show opens and then a fitting finale features what appears to be Bonnie’s words from her number, “Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad,” unrealistically coming true. It’s a strong ending to an evening that is full of surprises and multiple magic moments. Frank Wildorn’s “Bonnie & Clyde” plays at New Line Theatre through October 25th. Give them a call at 314-534-1111 for tickets or visit them at newlinetheatre.com for more information.

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3 Responses to ““Bonnie & Clyde” Tear Up Stage At New Line With Bullets And Ballads”

  1. An over-the-top rave | and sure stars shining . . . Says:

    […] review at https://stagedoorstl.com/2014/10/04/bonnie-clyde-tears-up-the-stage-at-new-line-with-bullets-and-ball… is an over-the-top […]

  2. Reviews, amalgamated | and sure stars shining . . . Says:

    […] https://stagedoorstl.com/2014/10/04/bonnie-clyde-tears-up-the-stage-at-new-line-with-bullets-and-ball… […]

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