Friday June 30, 2017 @ The Other Palace Studio Space
Cast: Evelyn Hoskins, Jamie Muscato, Rebecca Trehearn, Joshua Denver, Sam Ferriday
Note: This was a work-in-progress workshop production with minimal staging and a short rehearsal period. In their studio space, The Other Palace try out existing and new material in front of audiences and work on the show based upon its feedback.
Also note that photography is of the original Broadway production.
I really couldn’t contain my excitement when this was first announced, for so many reasons. Bonnie and Clyde is a musical based on the infamous outlaws by the acclaimed – and my favourite composer – Frank Wildhorn (music), Don Black (lyrics) and Ivan Menchell (book), and all three of the them were in the audience Friday night, which was insanity, so for a theatre kid like me, you can understand, I was on Cloud 9. So for some insane reason, the show only lasted a mere five weeks on Broadway, and with this production alone, it’s ridiculous to believe how that was.
Prior to this production, I had previously seen the show done by top drama schools ArtsEd (Arts Educational Schools) and Mountview Academy – with many of the cast from those productions now in West End/UK professional theatre themselves. The ArtsEd production remains one of the best few hours of theatre I have ever experienced, and this work-in-progress production I saw last Friday honoured the same material perfectly.
Bonnie and Clyde, no matter how its done, will always be one of my favourite musicals and my favourite of Frank Wildhorn’s. I was excited for this production, and wow, it did not disappoint. First of all, the performers they assembled here were perfectly cast. Evelyn Hoskins and Jamie Muscato had the biggest of tasks in my opinion to live up to Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes [who created the roles on Broadway] but they held their own and were convincing as the doomed lovers – their second act duet “Too Late to Turn Back Now” was brilliantly powerful, with the pair showcasing their raw vocal ability. Hoskins’ version of the 11 O’clock number “Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad” was incredible and emotional, she had the audience in the palm of her hand, gaining one of the biggest applause’s of the night.
The rest of the cast were awesome too – Joshua Denver played Buck with great spirit and killer vocals; Sam Ferriday gave a heartfelt Ted; and Rebecca Lock equally broke my heart as Bonnie’s mother in the final scenes. While everyone else also remaining on the highest level, there is one woman who exceeds that highest level somehow. She is on a different level that has not even been invented yet. I can’t even begin to describe how watching and listening to this woman and her voice is just the most powerful, emotional experience you can have. I am of course talking about recent-Olivier Award-winner Rebecca Trehearn. Trehearn played Blanche in the show and stole it for me completely. She was hilarious, touchingly beautiful and her voice was beyond perfect for the role, you would think it was written for her – Blanche and Bonnie’s duet “You Love Who You Love” is defiantly one of my top 5 songs of all time, and they smashed it out of the park here. I also found myself getting emotional at Blanche’s solo “That’s What You Call a Dream,” again down to the effortless vocals from Trehearn. I could write an essay on the liquid-gold perfection that is Trehearn’s voice, but I better leave it there…for now.
Anyway, fan-guying over, in short, this production was flawless. The reason I love this show so much is because of its incredible score, it didn’t matter that the staging was very minimal, or that 80% of the time scripts were in hands, there were no sets and that they used hands for guns (that sounds dumb when I write it but it worked fine); it’s just a very well written show, it builds the relationship of the title characters and develops it well so the inevitable final scenes of the show are dramatic, but equally stay grounded and real so you care about these two dreamers-turned-outlaws that wanted to give so little and ended up losing so much – all the while including some of the most perfect songs I have ever heard! I have everything crossed for its future, because it is without a doubt, West End ready. I can see it transferring, even if just for a limited run, to The Other Palace’s main theatre space, so come on theatre Gods…make it happen!!