Bonnie & Clyde

Having missed the original West End runs of this show, I was super excited to be seeing the brand-new UK & Ireland Tour out at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.  I have heard nothing but good things about this show which has a book by Ivan Menchell, lyrics by Don Black and music by Frank Wildhorn.  So, with this first-class pedigree of creatives did it fire on all cylinders, or merely fire blanks?!  Thankfully it was former! 

As we take our seats, we see a backdrop of a large bullet hole which has smoke emanating through it, setting the tone for the initial barrage of gunshots that ring out throughout the auditorium.  This, combined with impressive lighting effects by Zoe Spurr, starts the show as we see our stars slumped in a car strewn with bullet holes and leaving this world how they had planned…..together.  The set by Philip Witcomb consists of brick walls all scattered with bullet holes, jail bars and some impressive videos from designer Nina Dunn. The video projections were used well throughout the show depicting the open road and also used to show pictures of the real Bonnie & Clyde from the 1920's and 1930’s. 

Firstly, the music is outstanding, no surprise though with the dream team of Don Black and Frank Wildhorn.  Each song has a particular sound from that era and vocally the performances were outstanding.  Shout out to Jaz Ellington as Preacher who has the most soulful voice I’ve heard for a long time, so smooth and tuneful that I could have listened to him all night. In fact, all performers delivered such beautiful renditions of the many fantastic songs within this show, and each fit so well into the narrative that everything flows perfectly.

Leading the cast are Alex James-Hatton as Clyde Barrow and Katie Tonkinson as Bonnie Parker.  This is a match made in heaven.  Bonnie & Clyde are clearly desperately in love, some might say lust, but the chemistry between the pair on stage was palpable, with many moments of tenderness between them.  Each song they delivered individually, including ‘Raise a Little Hell’ from Clyde and ‘How ‘Bout a Dance’ from Bonnie just ticked every box musically and made for one of those shows where you could just sit back in your chair to take it all in, knowing you’re in safe hands.

In her first musical theatre role, Catherine Tyldesley as Blanche Barrow equally impressed with a strong performance and exceptional American accent. Her duet with Bonnie ‘You Love Who You Love’ produced beautiful harmonies and her rendition of ‘Now That’s What You Call a Dream’ was pitch perfect.  Playing alongside Tyldesley is Sam Ferriday as her husband, and brother to Clyde, Marvin ‘Buck’ Barrow.  Again, the chemistry between the pair was totally believable and Ferriday shone in this role.  Blanche desperately wants to save her husband from a life of crime with Clyde so is very head strong, however she meets her match with Bonnie and the comical moments between the two are met with a great response from the audience.

I think its safe to say we all know the story of Bonnie & Clyde, but by the end of the show, you couldn’t help but love them.  Bonnie was fixated on becoming a famous Hollywood actress and Clyde wanted nothing more than to be the next Al Capone with his name in the papers. How they went about to accomplish their dreams was of course questionable, however this musical encapsulated the love story between the pair and how they were better together, in life and death.

I loved everything about this show and would happily head back to see it all over again.

This show was reviewed on the 5th March 2024 at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre where it runs until the 9th March 2024.  Tickets available here: BONNIE & CLYDE | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Full tour details can be found here: Home - Bonnie & Clyde (bonnieandclydemusical.com)

Review written by Emma Rowley

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Photo credit: Richard Davenport

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You can still watch our interview with Katie Tonkinson who plays Bonnie Parker here: https://youtu.be/tI6ZaIb96bM?si=PBgr4QzdUge7W8yw

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