The story of Bonnie and Clyde’s infamous rise and fall has been told and retold countless times over the ages — in film, television, music, and, as of 2009, musical theater. The La Jolla Playhouse was the first to stage Ivan Menchell’s tuneful take on America’s favorite gangster couple, which features music written by Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Don Black. This Thursday, April 3, Santa Barbara’s Out of the Box Theatre (OOTB) brings the play to Center Stage for a two-week run that promises lots of fast cars, blazing guns, and vibrant live music.
“We tend to take on stories that make people go, ‘Wait. That’s a musical?’” laughed Out of the Box artistic director Samantha Eve, speaking in advance of the play’s first dress rehearsal. “I think that’s what makes these plays so great, though — they have such dramatic undertones and angst and emotion, and when things get that extreme, for it to turn into song seems like the next logical step. In that way, Bonnie & Clyde is an amazing musical, because the things that they go through and the way that it weighs on them when their life starts to take a turn is really intense, and the music changes with it.”
In addition to a cast that includes Santa Barbara staple Katherine Bottoms and PCPA alum Lafras le Roux in the leading roles, Bonnie & Clyde will prominently feature a live band, with musical direction from longtime OOTB collaborator John Enrico Douglas. “We went into it knowing that we really wanted that fiddle,” said Eve. “It adds that country feel to the whole production.”
Ultimately though, Bonnie & Clyde is a tale of two real-life troubled souls, and even in musical form, it’s that story that carries the weight. “Katherine does a really great job at making Bonnie a strong female role but at the same time instilling this sense of someone getting in over their head,” Eve explained. “And with le Roux, he’s as charming as someone could possibly be, but he also has these really great, layered dramatic moments that capture the changes in Clyde.”
Bonnie & Clyde plays at Center Stage Theater this Thursday, April 3, through Sunday, April 13. For tickets and showtimes, call (805) 964-0408 or visit centerstagetheater.tix.com.