Bonnie and Clyde on Broadway

Bullet-riddled, blood-oozing bodies slumped over in a Model-T – that was the opening scene at Thursday’s opening night performance of Bonnie & Clyde, now playing at the Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street).

Since we all know the ending to this crazy story, it was appropriate that we start there, then we could move past the expected and focus on the story of how these two came to be. Growing up in poverty during the Great Depression, both dreamed of fame and glory – Bonnie’s on the movie screen, one day taking Clara Bow’s place as the next “it girl.” Clyde’s dreams started and stayed violent, idolizing Billy The Kid as a boy, and as he grew older, dreaming of replacing Al Capone as the nation’s most notorious gangster. With no hope to achieve the promise of the American Dream through hard work during this time of a downward spiraling economy, their path led to robbery and murder.

I learned that Bonnie had a penchant for prose, and wrote about the couple’s life on the “lamb’ foreshadowing their ultimate end in The Trails End

They don't think they're too smart or desperate
they know that the law always wins.
They've been shot at before;
but they do not ignore,
that death is the wages of sin.

Some day they'll go down together
they'll bury them side by side.
To few it'll be grief,
to the law a relief
but it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.

The show used projections of real photos of the couple and clippings of the papers of the day to help back the story line and illustrate just how notorious the two became. That, coupled with a solid score by Frank Wildhorn, enhanced my enjoyment of the musical, and, in my eyes, the low key ending of the two driving off towards their inevitable demise seemed the right way to go. It was refreshing to have a musical restrain from the formulaic big closing musical number, and offer something realistic to support the story line.

Clyde and Bonnie met when he was 20 and she was 19. What is amazing and disturbing, given the trail of bloodshed they left behind them, is how madly in love these two kids were and how connected they were to their families.

Definitely worth a night at the theatre. Go – you’ll be happy you did.

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