Bonnie & Clyde is a musical with music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black and a book by Ivan Menchell. The world premiere took place in La Jolla, California in November 2009. The musical centers on Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the ill-fated lovers and outlaws whose story has been infamous since they achieved folk hero status during the Great Depression. Wildhorn described the music as a "non-traditional score, combining rockabilly, blues and gospel music". The La Jolla run was followed by a Sarasota, Florida engagement in 2010.

The musical debuted on Broadway in December 2011, where it failed to impress the critics. Ticket sales were poor, and it closed after just four weeks. It was nominated for 3 Outer Critics Circle Awards and 5 Drama Desk Awards, both including Best New Musical, as well as two nominations for the 2012 Tony Awards. Subsequent productions have since been staged internationally following the submission of the work to Music Theater International, including productions in Japan, Korea and the U.K.

Background Edit

Previously, Black and Wildhorn collaborated on Dracula, the Musical, which also had its world premiere in La Jolla. Wildhorn got in touch with Black about the possibility of writing a song cycle based on the story of Bonnie and Clyde. They released a 13-track demo recording (5 of which are still in the present musical but altered considerably) for Atlantic Records with Michael Lanning, Rob Evan, Brandi Burkhardt and Linda Eder sharing the principal roles. The music contains elements of country and western, Blues and Broadway pop. In February 2009, the show held an industry-only reading at Roundabout Theatre Company, starring Laura Osnes as Bonnie and Stark Sands as Clyde.

Production history Edit

La Jolla (2009) Edit

The musical had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California beginning in previews November 10, 2009. Opening night was November 22. The run concluded December 20, after 15 previews and 33 regular performances. Jeff Calhoun helmed and choreographed the production that starred Osnes and Sands, along with Melissa van der Schyff as Blanche and Claybourne Elder as Buck. It won five major San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Awards in 2009.

Sarasota (2010) Edit

Due to a positive response from the La Jolla run, the show announced a return engagement for the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida. Previews began November 12, 2010, before a November 19 opening. It ran for 8 previews and 36 regular performances through December 19, with Osnes being joined by Jeremy Jordan as Clyde. The production's artistic director Michael Edwards stated, "How it goes here, will determine whether it goes to Broadway".

Broadway (2011) Edit

The success of the Florida production led to the show's Broadway debut in New York City. Previews began on November 4, 2011, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, with the official opening on December 1, 2011, following the 33 previews. Osnes and Jordan reprised their roles. Ticket sales were slow, and producers announced on December 16, 2011, that the show would close on December 30. Originally planned as an open-ended run, it played just 36 regular performances. On January 2, 2012 statement, director Calhoun said that he had "never had a show close while it was still playing to audiences like a hit".

International and amateur productions Edit

  • A Japanese language production played the Aoyama Theatre in Tokyo, Japan from fall 2011 until January 22, 2012, with Megumi Hamada as Bonnie, Mario Tashiro as Clyde, Koki Okada as Buck and Yuri Shirahane as Blanche. It was directed by Tetsu Taoshita.
  • The first Korean language staging in Seoul, South Korea took place from September 4-October 27, 2013 at the Chungmu Art Hall. The opening night was September 23.
  • The U.K. premiere of the musical was staged at ArtsEd in Chiswick, London from January 17–25, 2014, with permission of MTI of New York. Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts presented the show at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Tottenham, London in early 2015.
  • The first North American regional production was held at Aquinas Institute at the Thomas F. Bell Auditorium in summer 2014, through Stageworks.
  • The German premiere was staged at the Theater Bielefeld.
  • The Irish premiere was staged by University College Dublin in November 2014.
  • The Czech premiere was staged by DJKT Theatre Pilsen in May 2016. Second Czech production was introduced as major production by Music Theatre Karlin Prague in October 2016.

Plot Edit

Broadway production Edit

Act I

("Prologue"). In Depression-era West Texas, Bonnie is a 20-year-old diner waitress who dreams of a life in the movies. Young Bonnie is also onstage singing about the dream. ("Picture Show"). Clyde Barrow, who has just broken out of prison with his brother Buck, discovers Bonnie on the side of the road and a connection is made between the two dreamers as he repairs her car in exchange for a lift into Dallas ("This World Will Remember Me"). Meanwhile, Blanche Barrow urges her husband, Buck, to turn himself in and set things right with the Lord and with the law ("You're Goin' Back to Jail").

Bonnie ends up spending the whole day, and several thereafter, with Clyde. She tells him of her grand plans: to be an actress, a poet and a singer. Clyde convinces her to sing him a song ("How 'Bout a Dance?") and assures her that together they'll make both their dreams - his of a life without having to worry about money, hers of fame - come true. The two go to visit Buck. Clyde is overjoyed to see his brother again and they talk of driving away from Dallas in the latest Ford, which is said to be able to go 60 miles per hour ("When I Drive"). However, when Clyde hears of Buck's plan to turn himself in and complete his sentence, he's strongly opposed to the idea and leaves angrily.

However, Clyde is eventually caught by Ted and the other authorities, while Buck turns himself in ("God's Arms Are Always Open"). In the jailhouse, Ted and Clyde reflect on their love for Bonnie ("You Can Do Better Than Him"). Bonnie professes her love for Clyde ("You Love Who You Love") as Blanche does the same for Buck. Buck is released quickly, while Clyde receives a much harsher jail sentence, and then faces a difficult time of continuous physical and sexual assault while in prison. At the peak of his abuse, Clyde turns to a makeshift weapon and performs his first murder ("Raise a Little Hell"). He convinces Bonnie to smuggle a gun into his cell, and Clyde again breaks out of prison, this time killing a deputy ("This World Will Remember Us").

Act II

Bonnie and Clyde begin a life of crime, robbing stores and traveling all around to avoid being caught ("Made in America"). During a grocery store robbery gone wrong, Clyde shoots a deputy who was, in his words: 'trying to be a hero'. When she hears that Clyde has gone from robbery to murder, a frenzied Bonnie wants out ("Too Late to Turn Back Now") but realizes that she's too far from what she's known to go back. In part due to the grocery store shooting, the two achieve folk hero status throughout the country, with officers in every Southern state on the hunt for them. Clyde sends occasional letters to Buck and Blanche, telling them of the adventures and opportunities they've made on the road. Buck begins to see that there is more for them out there than can be found in their current situation, and he unsuccessfully tries to convince Blanche that they should join Clyde and Bonnie ("That's What You Call a Dream").

The infamous duo, meanwhile, continue on their robbery spree, growing increasingly bold in their endeavors ("What Was Good Enough for You") and graduating from stores to banks. In the midst of an unsuccessful bank robbery, Clyde is shot in the shoulder. Upon hearing of his brother's injury, Buck leaves home - and his wife, who's torn between her love for her husband and what she knows is right - to help Clyde. In the hideout, Clyde and Bonnie share a tender moment ("Bonnie") before being interrupted by Buck at the door. He's with a reluctant Blanche; her love for her husband won out in the end. Days later, Bonnie and Blanche nervously await the return of Clyde and Buck from a robbery ("Raise A Little Hell (Reprise")), as Blanche questions how Bonnie can happily live the way they do. Bonnie replies that she and Clyde are the only ones truly living life to the fullest ("Dyin' Ain't So Bad"). Buck and Clyde return, with their respective partners elated to see them, but the celebration is short-lived as they learn that they've been followed by the authorities to the hideout. A shootout ensues, in which Buck is mortally wounded. Clyde quickly whisks Bonnie away, but a heartbroken Blanche stays with Buck until his dying breath and is arrested for aiding and abetting ("God's Arms Are Always Open (reprise)"). Ted reports back to the Sheriff (having been told by Bonnie's mother of Bonnie and Clyde's whereabouts) and they prepare to ambush the couple. A guilty Ted convinces himself he is doing the right thing ("You Can Do Better Than Him (reprise)").

In the woods on the way back to Dallas, Clyde wonders how his family will even be able to look at him after what he's done to Buck ("Picture Show (reprise)"). Bonnie assures him that it wasn't his fault, but both realize that they're nearing the end of their fateful journey ("Dyin' Ain't So Bad (reprise)" / "How 'Bout a Dance? (reprise)"). On May 23, 1934, on a rural Louisianan road, Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed and killed by police on the way to meet their parents.

Musical numbers Edit

Broadway production Edit

Act I
  • "Prologue"
  • "Picture Show" - Young Bonnie, Young Clyde, Bonnie, Clyde
  • "This World Will Remember Me" – Clyde, Bonnie
  • "You're Goin' Back to Jail" – Blanche, Buck, Salon Women
  • "How 'Bout a Dance?" – Bonnie
  • "When I Drive" – Clyde, Buck
  • "God's Arms Are Always Open" – Preacher, Blanche, Congregation
  • "You Can Do Better Than Him" – Ted, Clyde
  • "You Love Who You Love" – Bonnie, Blanche
  • "Raise a Little Hell" – Clyde
  • "This World Will Remember Us" – Clyde, Bonnie
Act II
  • "Made in America" – Preacher, Ensemble
  • "Too Late to Turn Back Now" – Clyde, Bonnie
  • "That's What You Call a Dream" – Blanche
  • "What Was Good Enough For You" – Clyde, Bonnie
  • "Bonnie" – Clyde
  • "Raise a Little Hell (reprise)" – Clyde, Buck, Ted
  • "Dyin' Ain't So Bad" – Bonnie
  • "God's Arms Are Always Open (reprise)"† – Blanche, Preacher
  • "You Can Do Better Than Him (reprise)"† – Ted
  • "Picture Show (reprise)"† – Young Bonnie, Young Clyde
  • "Dyin' Ain't So Bad (reprise)" – Clyde, Bonnie
  • "How 'Bout a Dance? (reprise)" – Bonnie

†Not on the Original Broadway Cast Recording.

Casts Edit

  • Below are the principal cast members of all major productions of Bonnie & Clyde to date.
Role La Jolla (2009) Sarasota (2010) Broadway (2011) Japan Tour (2011) Seoul (2013)
Bonnie Parker Laura Osnes Megumi Hamada Kahi / 

Lisa / 
Ahn Yoo-jin / 

Clyde Barrow Stark Sands Jeremy Jordan Mario Tashiro Um Ki-joon / 

Key / 
Park Hyung-sik / 
Han Ji-sang / 
Jang Hyun-seung

Blanche Barrow Melissa van der Schyff Yuri Shirahane Ju-A
Buck Barrow Claybourne Elder Koki Okada Lee Jeong-youl / 

Kim Min-jong

Ted Hinton Chris Peluso Kevin Massey Louis Hobson Masaaki Fujioka / 

Masataka Nakagauchi

Kim Pub-rae / 

Kim Hyeong-gyun / 
Park Jin-woo

Preacher Michael Lanning Hiro Tsunoda
Sheriff Schmid Wayne Duvall Joe Hart Katsumi Kiba
Young Clyde Zach Rand Talon Ackerman
Young Bonnie Kelsey Fowler
Emma Parker Mare Winningham Mimi Bessette Yukiko Ikeda

Critical response Edit

Regional Edit

La Jolla Edit

The Los Angeles Times review complimented the leads, saying that Osnes "effectively works the red-headed moll temptress angle while Stark Sands' Clyde flaunts his ripped torso as often as possible. And both possess sharp musical instincts". The Wildhorn score "is undeniably impressive". Although it notes that "stylistically, the work seems beholden to conventional forms yet curious about modern breakthroughs... what is motivating the retelling of this story?"

Sarasota Edit

"Bonnie & Clyde opened Friday at the Asolo Repertory Theatre with a bang—actually quite a few deadly bangs—and by night's end proved worthy of all the buzz it has created...On balance, though, Bonnie & Clyde has all the markings of a musical bound for success on the Great White Way and should be mandatory viewing for all local theater enthusiasts". - Wade Tatangelo, "There is much to recommend in this show about the two fame-obsessed Texas outlaws in the early 1930s. It boasts two star-making performances by Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes in the title roles, smooth and action-packed staging by Jeff Calhoun, an impressive set that also displays historic videos and photos, and a tune-filled score by Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Don Black". - Jay Handelman, Herald Tribune.

Broadway Edit

The opening night received mixed to negative reviews. Roma Torre of NY 1 commented that the show "has many virtues but also enough flaws to keep it from blowing you away", while Thom Geir of Entertainment Weekly criticizes the show, claiming it "aims for kiss-kiss-bang-bang, but too often it's just firing blanks". However, the two lead performers, Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes, received generally good reviews for their performances, with critic Ben Brantley of The New York Times stating that Jordan "exudes a naturally intense presence, and he works hard at making Clyde seem both wholesome and menacing" and that "Ms. Osnes is a lovely young woman of fashion-model proportions and an instinctive, accessible elegance that reads Ingénue". The cast and crew, as well as many of the production's supporters, expressed that they felt the critics had been biased due to Wildhorn's previous Broadway track record.

Cast recording Edit

An original Broadway cast album featuring all 20 musical numbers and a bonus track (the song "This Never Happened Before", which was cut during the show's early stages), was recorded on January 2, 2012 and released on April 24.

Awards and nominations Edit

Broadway production Edit

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2012 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Laura Osnes Nominated
Best Original Score Frank Wildhorn and Don Black Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Melissa van der Schyff Nominated
Outstanding Music Frank Wildhorn Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Don Black Nominated

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