Musical Captures Gangsters' Romance

Cape Cod Times
By Laurie Higgins
May 17, 2010

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were gunned down in 1934, but the mystique of their lawless love story is still alive and well today at Harwich Junior Theatre with "Bonnie and Clyde, the Two Person Six Gun Musical."

Rather than a retelling of the true story, the musical has fun with the media myth of Bonnie and Clyde. Without the members of the Barrow gang or any other characters on stage, the sole focus becomes the relationship between the two lovers.

Minus the guns, it is not much different from any great love story, and that is a large part of the production's appeal.

A Depression-era small-town girl with big dreams winds up abandoned by her husband after one year of marriage, working as a waitress in a run-down diner. When a charismatic customer promises her adventure and travel, she jumps at the chance to leave her dreary life behind. At first, she's shocked that her new lover is a small-time bandit, but she quickly becomes addicted to the adrenaline rush the robberies offer.

A two-person play depends on stellar acting to be successful, and Caitlin Mills and Troy Armand Barboza more than deliver. They are both very talented singers who bring great depth to their vocal performances. They also have a believable chemistry that makes their love scene sizzle and their duets breathtaking. Mills has a big clear voice that soars with emotion and can deliver both sexy and comedy with equal good measure. Barboza handles the range between disarmingly charming and honestly tortured with equal aplomb, at one point shedding real tears.

Under Mary Arnault's masterful direction, the cast and crew delivered a flawless opening night that flowed effortlessly from song to song, scene to scene. One of the surprises of the show is how funny it is, especially the car chases, which are hilariously choreographed. The first act is pure fun, and while the second act is more somber at times, the dialogue still crackles with one-liners, perfectly delivered for maximum comic effect.

At first glance, Andrew Arnault's simple set design gives no hint of how amazingly effective it will become, thanks in no small part to the rest of the production crew, especially J Hagenbuckle's sound and projection design. With just a few wooden crates and two burlap screens showing evocative period photos and headlines, they capture the mood of the era and set it for the show.

The song book features toe-tapping show tunes with a bluesy, folksy undertone that are nicely suited to the story. Led by musical director Bob Wilder on keyboard, the band is excellent, with Alex Hopper on guitar and Phil White on drum.

"Bonnie and Clyde" is thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. There's romance, adventure, second thoughts, recriminations, guilt, and finally a defiant pride in what they've become. The legend lives on.


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