'Bonnie and Clyde' is Rapid-Fire Fun in Harwich

Cape Codder
By Ellen Petry Whalen
May 20, 2010

The infamous, depression-era bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde were ruthless murderers. Yet the press glamorized them. Harwich Junior Theatre’s latest show, “Bonnie and Clyde, the Two Person, Six Gun Musical” examines the highly sensationalized pair from the angle of their love affair. Taking advantage of the many myths blended with historical facts, the audience is taken on a fun and wild ride of romance, suspense and old-fashioned shoot-outs.

Mary Arnault directs this intense, operetta-like show. She chose well-known, local talents Caitlin Mills and Troy Armand Barboza to star in this demanding, two-person musical. The top-notch actors immediately develop a physically charged relationship that dramatically escalates during their perfectly synchronized performance.

As the nineteen-year-old Bonnie, Mills’ superb voice shines as she easily captures the attention of the two-bit crook Clyde, along with the audience. At first, Clyde is just a means for “the nice girl” to get out of her dead-end job and small-town where she is an abandoned wife. Her biggest dream is to parade down Main Street in a nice car being adored by all. After experiencing the rush of stealing a rabbit from a pet store, Bonnie decides to aim higher.

From the start, the twenty-one-year-old Clyde only wants to stay under the radar of the law, sticking to small heists. Barboza’s boyish charm helps the audience to empathize with Clyde’s lawlessness. Times are tough with the depression in full swing and crime is naturally on the rise. Barboza’s voice and ruthless transformation come together masterfully in the second act, where he uses his machine gun as a means to an end, without a second thought.

With just two actors on stage, the gifted Mills, filling the stage with her powerful presence, could be a hard act to follow, but Barboza holds his own with his charisma and physicality. The couple’s playful duet of “Shoot” is the pinnacle of fun. With minimal props (created by Andrew Arnault), the two actors recreate a fast-paced chase scene embodying the intensity of their relationship and their life on the run, where they’re wanted dead or alive.

The costume designs (Robin McLaughlin) perfectly capture the era. The lively music is expertly performed by Bob Wilder, Alex Hopper and Phil White. Suzette Hutchinson’s skilled blocking of synchronized sounds and movements gives the actors a magical touch.

“Bonnie and Clyde the Musical” is geared for teenagers and up. It is ironic that the show deals with two notorious killers in a romanticized and fun fashion, but somehow it works. Even with the creative use of J Hagenbuckle’s multimedia headlines of the murderous lovers’ two-year crime spree throughout the central United States, one can’t help but feel sorry for the pair as they face their deaths.


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