Flawlessly produced and witty, Aurora Theatre’s world premiere production of Clyde ‘n Bonnie: A Folktale has all the elements of a hit musical sure to be a popular show all across the country.
The musical comedy by Hunter Foster (book) and Rick Crom (music and lyrics) takes the story of Bonnie and Clyde and turns it into tongue-in-cheek spoof that’s more reminiscent of Airplane than the recent Broadway show, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It works for this musical, and the sold out shows certainly foreshadow the future popularity of the show.
Directed by Broadway veteran Lonny Price, the play within a play begins with an introduction by Martha (Karen Howell). She welcomes the audience to the town’s performance that concludes their festival in honor of Bonnie and Clyde. From that point the farcical events ensue. At times it makes fun of theater and at others it pokes fun at itself.
Loosely following true historical events of Clyde Barrow (J.C. Long) and Bonnie Parker (Laura Floyd), the story goes from their meeting to their eventual deaths. Along the way they meet up with Barrow’s brother Buck (Bryant Smith) and his wife Blanche (Caitlin Smith). Even though he wasn’t a major player in actual events, a caricature of J. Edgar Hoover (Bart Hansard) chases the duo and creates hilarity along the way.
Long, as Barrow, carries the show, and his strong performance is quite memorable. Likewise, Floyd’s Bonnie delights. Providing most of the zingers in the show, Howell’s Martha delivers the quips with impeccable timing and perfect tone. The stand out performance of the show, however, isn’t one of the leads, but Smith’s Blanche. With powerhouse vocals and a delightful performance, she captivates the audience.
Featuring solid chorography by Josh Rhodes, the visuals of the show from the staging to Phil Male’s set are stunning. Foster’s book is witty and quickly paced, and Crom’s score delivers a fun mix of musical styles.
While there’s much that many people will love in the musical, a small set of flaws in the script appear. The depiction of Hoover as a cross dresser becomes a little too much and a little less of it might make the Chicago-like finale even more hilarious. Plus, the short second act feels incomplete and a bit anti-climatic.
An entertaining, well-polished production, Aurora Theatre’s Clyde ‘n Bonnie: A Folktale runs through April 15. For tickets and more information, please call 678-226-6222 or visit the theater’s website. The show is a little over two hours long and features mild language.
– Kenny Norton