Review - Bonnie & Clyde - National Tour


Bonnie & Clyde - National Tour

After three appearances in the West End - firstly as a concert in 2022, and then at the Arts and Garrick Theatres in 2023 - Bonnie & Clyde, a musical about the infamous outlaws of the 1930’s is on tour, and, whether you know their whole story, or just their names, it is well worth going to see.

The musical numbers, with lyrics by Don Black and music by Frank Wildhorn, are a mixture of genres from rock to folk and even some gospel. Special mention goes to Alex James-Hatton as Clyde, for his powerhouse rendition of ‘Raise a Little Hell’; Katie Tonkinson, as Bonnie, for her stunning delivery of the ballad 'Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad' and Catherine Tyldesley, as Blanche, for her tear-jerking rendition of ‘Now That’s What You Call a Dream’. If those three songs aren’t enough to blow you away, when you hear Tonkinson and Tyldesley join forces for ‘You Love Who You Love’, you understand why musical theatre fans have embraced the show's songs with such reverence.

Tonkinson, a relative newcomer, plays the role of Bonnie as if she were made for it, and her chemistry with James-Hatton is mesmerising to the point that the audience almost only see two people in love rather than the criminals they became. You almost ask yourself if they could be forgiven - after all they were living during the Great Depression when things were tough and who wouldn’t do anything for the one they love?

This is a theme which also comes through in the relationship between Clyde’s brother Buck, played by Sam Ferriday and his wife Blanche, played by Catherine Tyldesley. Like Bonnie & Clyde, all they dream of is a better life, but in all four cases their choices lead them down an ultimately tragic path. Although, maybe for Blanche, by following her heart and not her head, and being the sole survivor, she pays the biggest price. Tyldsley’s portrayal of the character is outstanding, making the audience feel every emotion she feels and the struggle she goes through. Equally watching Buck battle between right and wrong is so sad and Ferriday’s strong performance really tugs at the audience's heart strings - can we really hate him for his involvement when all he wanted to do was help his brother and make a better life for him and his wife?

The show's director and choreographer, Nick Winston, clearly wants to ensure the audience feel the turmoil people at that time were going through and the scene which mixed the community at the church asking for help, interspersed with Clyde’s early crimes through the song 'God's Arms Are Always Open’, was extremely powerful.

In addition, the use of lighting (Zoe Spurr), sound (Tom Marshall) and video (Nina Dunn) really added to the power of the show - from the moment it began with a flurry of gun fire and flashing lights to symbolise the end of the outlaws lives, to the final moments when images of the two flashed across the stage to remind us that these were real people.

When the show ended, initially I felt a little cheated - was this really the way to end the story of two such infamous characters? But on reflection, I realised it left me wanting to find out more; to be immersed in their world further. Maybe, this is the genius of the show - Bonnie & Clyde wanted the world to remember them and nearly 100 years on we still remain fascinated by them. My tip to you - it’d be criminal to let your chance to see this show pass you by!

This show was reviewed on the 23rd February 2024 at the Curve Leicester.  The tour continues and full dates can be found here: Home - Bonnie & Clyde (bonnieandclydemusical.com)

**** 1/2 stars

Kat Fuller

Join Kat every Tuesday from 9.00am for 'The Best of Stage and Screen' here on Box Office Radio

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Photo credit: Richard Davenport