Bonnie and Clyde – The Musical might have its fans but that doesn’t make it a good musical at the Garrick Theatre
“No ideas and no big plans”
Bonnie and Clyde – The Musical has long had a troubled production history so the fact that Nick Winston’s revival has managed the leap from staged concert to off-West End at the Arts Theatre to the actual West End down the road at the Garrick Theatre is mightily impressive. Crucial to its success has been the kind of fan support many musicals could only dream of, again nothing but a positive.
The issue for me though is that it really isn’t that good a show, despite the hard work being put into the production here. Ivan Menchell’s book opens with the titular duo’s fate but as it cycles back to tell us ‘what had happened was…’, the decision to romanticise so much of their story sticks out like a sore thumb, glossing over the many rough edges of reality that form the real impulse behind such criminal activity.
There are moments in Winston’s largely contemporary staging that make you think it might work but this ends up as a cake and eating it scenario, any attempt to introduce grit washed away by soppily fantastical nonsense. Frances Mayli McCann and Jordan Luke Gage give it good welly with somer powerful vocals but the fresh skin and sharp jawlines mean it is hard to take anything seriously.
Matters aren’t helped by the pick’n’mix variety of Frank Wildhorn’s score, ricocheting from rock to jazz to gospel with no real sense of intention, no musical identity emerging to help try and establish what this musical is trying to say. Supporting performances from Jodie Steele and George Maguire are better than this show deserves but that’s a rare highlight in an evening that will largely leave you feeling robbed.