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Bonnie & Clyde

Bonnie & Clyde

Discover the electrifying story of love, adventure and crime that captured the attention of an entire nation.

WINNER of Best New Musical (What’sOnStage Awards 2023), the West End smash-hit BONNIE & CLYDE is set to hold-up Manchester following two hell-raising seasons in London’s West End.

Two small-town kids from the middle of nowhere became the biggest folk heroes in all America. They craved adventure—and each other. Their names were Bonnie and Clyde. Fearless, shameless, and alluring, this award-winning production has garnered a mass following, much like the infamous pair themselves, and now they are set to take your city by storm. 

Featuring music by Tony® nominee Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde), lyrics by Tony® and Oscar® winner Don Black (Sunset Boulevard), a book by Emmy® Award nominee Ivan Menchell, and directed by Nick Winston.

Book now – it would be a crime to miss it!

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Bonnie & Clyde ON TOUR

Our review on Bonnie & Clyde

Bonnie & Clyde - Palace Theatre, Manchester - Tuesday 7th May 2024 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

Bonnie & Clyde!  A hell raising, whirlwind tale of trauma, murder, and love.  It’s quite the heady mix of ammunition for a spectacular musical that will blast your bloomers into next week!  Based on the true lives of this infamous criminal couple, Bonnie & Clyde were glamourised in the 1967 film and a strange love affair with learning about criminals was heightened and romanticised.  They lived for the allure of adventure and for taking revenge on a system that changed their lives forever.  Travelling across America during The Great Depression with The Barrow gang, they robbed gas stations, stores and banks, with no qualms about murdering anyone who got in their way.  Many saw their adventures as a rebellion against the state and they garnered quite the following.  This fascinating, felonious folk tale is fabulous as a musical.  It takes us from Bonnie & Clyde’s first meeting into their passionate and all-encompassing love story, down their dangerous and corrupt path, into their inevitable and harrowing end.  The question is, when your two leading characters are murdering criminals, how do we as an audience get on board?  Quite simply because Ivan Menchell who wrote the book, makes us empathise with them, feel for them, and not only grow to understand them, but root for them too.  It’s a strange feeling, but with their genuine love at the heart of it, and real life dialogue and facts sprinkled throughout, you begin to understand how they ended up on the path that they did, and that’s the part that is heartbreaking and allows us to feel for them.

I am a huge fan of Frank Wildhorn’s music, with shows such as Jekyll & Hyde, Wonderland: Alice’s New Musical Adventure, and writer for stars such as Whitney Houston, and along with lyrics by award winning Don Black, he has done it again!  Sublime storytelling with music that fits the era and the location whilst still encompasses the best of musical theatre, resulting in catchy, glorious and heartfelt songs that you will fall in love with.  From the rootin’ tootin’ You’re Goin’ Back To Jail, to the huge and showstopping This World Will Remember Me, and the sultry and stunning How ‘Bout A Dance?  The celestial God’s Arms Are Always Open will give you chills and fill your heart with something that is just dying to burst out.  Then there’s the beautiful and gentle You Love Who You Love before we are railroaded into the guitar riffed rock legend Raise A Little Hell that could fill stadiums!  It’s almost like Bonnie & Clyde have robbed The musical Hall Of Fame, and dipped into every music genre on route and brought them back to form a show that covers everything, yet is still entirely coherent.  Don Black’s lyrics as always are stunning, clever, and delve into the political depression at the time, offering insight into why crime was such an enticing option in songs such as Made In America.  And the genuine love between Bonnie & Clyde is heart wrenching in Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad.    

Katie Tonkinson (Bat Out Of Hell, Tarantino Live, Snow White) shines as Bonnie and her transformation from an innocent to being hooked into the dark side through unwavering love, and then becoming a criminal in her own right, is so convincing that you understand exactly how it can happen, and that is beautifully terrifying.  The nuances and depth she has given to her character and performance give this show authenticity and a wake up call too, as to how quickly young people can be pulled down a dangerous path.  Tonkinson will make you laugh, will willingly pull you into her world, and will break your heart.  She makes it so clear as to how Clyde would have fallen head over heels for her, and this is vital for us to see.  Her vocals are anything but criminal and they not only fill your entire being, but the interpretation, storytelling and emotion is electrifying.  Alex James-Hatton (Newsies, Book Of Mormon, Heathers) has the perfect swagger, charm and confidence for Clyde, enabling us all to love him, despite his misgivings.  His performance is magnetic, and again pulls us into his stratosphere with ease, meaning that we feel all the more when his tortured side is displayed.  When he sings Raise A Little Hell, believe me – you’ll want to!  It alights every fibre of your being and sets the theatre alight!  Alex James - Hatton is one heck of a performer and with every pun intended, I was blown away! 

Catherine Tyldesley (Coronation Street, Scarborough, Good Ship Murder) wows as Blanche with her rendition of Now That’s What You Call A Dream and really makes you stop and think, bringing a balanced and reasoned edge to the show.  Her acting is outstanding and brought genuine moments of awe to the show as well as the highest form of comedic skills, from her opening moment of jittering with nerves right down to her tell all looks.  Coupled with her ability to wrench your heart out with emotions as her husband dies in her arms, it is a spellbinding performance.  Sam Ferriday (Treason, Rock Of Ages, Heathers) as Buck provides us with excellent flair between the comedic and serious and has a brilliant partnership with both Catherine Tyldesley and Alex James – Hatton.  His duet with Hatton When I Drive was full of energy, and as the lyrics say, “it just feels great!”  He really showed us a different side to being a criminal, even a former one, and how when you have a loyalty to your family and the Law won’t leave you alone even when you try to do the right things, that can take its toll.  AJ Lewis as the preacher and Daniel Reid-Walters as Ted both brought power house vocals with songs such as God’s Arms Are Always Open, where Lewis took us on a glorious Gospel journey, and the heartfelt reprise of You Can Do Better Than Him was incredible from Walters.

With the show choreographed and directed by Nick Winston, you will be agog at the musical numbers and the sheer energy, intricacy, and balance of the scenes as they play out with humour and heartache.  One minute you are watching a bank being held up by gunpoint, the next, Bonnie & Clyde start arguing as to which way round their names should be, requiring a terrified bank clerk to answer with a gun pointed at his head.  The next, anger spills over as they come to realise the bank they are robbing has no money, and the tension is broken with a superbly delivered line.  “We’re robbing a bank with no money?”  “Yes.  The complaint forms are over there!”  There is room for both humour, fear, glamourised crime, and the brutality of it under Winstons direction, and he never resorts to relying on big fight scenes or shoot outs to tell the story.  He makes Bonnie & Clyde and all who form their story bigger than the guns, bigger than the crimes, and focuses on the why they ended up there and on their love.

Set and costume design by Philip Witcomb is detailed, woven together by the inclusion of bullet holes in every piece of scenery.  It is kept simple, and a row of layered slats, each diminishing in size the further back they go, offer dimensions and allow for various scenes to be played out at the same time, from church to prison to the outside world.  This does sometimes mean that you lose some visuals from the back of the stage if you are sat towards the side of the theatre, for the front slats effectively block out the view towards the back, but there is so much going on at anytime, you do not lose the story.  Lighting by Zoe Spurr offers superb ambience and with effective use of multiple quick fire spotlights, a shoot out is easily represented without the actors even needing to be on stage.  Another moment that caught my eye was the video design by Nina Dunn.  From lifelike woods, to silhouetted moments of trauma and abuse, and the inclusion of real images from the era, a unique, stylised and authentic feel was created.  I was also in awe of the symbolism during Made In America as the National flag was projected, only for the red stripes to turn into blood dripping down as its people were losing their lives in bloody crimes as their best means of hope and survival.  It was a clever and poignant moment.

The show literally opens with a bang, several actually, and even as you sit waiting for the show to begin, you will marvel at the screen portraying a huge bullet hole with smoke whispering through it.  With actual images of Bonnie & Clyde projected throughout, Bonnie’s poetry read out, and subtle nods to the era and actual letters read out and projected too, we are always reminded that this is based on a true story.  The vocal talents of this cast are second to none and the harmonies on offer are divine.  We all know that the story doesn’t end well for Bonnie & Clyde, so no spoilers there, but the show did manage to surprise me with how this was represented and how it wrapped itself up.  It was a pleasant surprise and I have to say it was tastefully done.  Bonnie & Clyde are glamourised crime personified and whilst you definitely shouldn’t try this at home, you should absolutely try watching it at The Palace Theatre Manchester because it tells you their tale, the people they were before, during, and after their crimes.  As Bonnie wrote in her poem,  “You’ve read the story of Jesse James, of how he lived and died.  If you're still in need; of something to read, here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.”


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