by Nancy Holley
Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.
Bonnie & Clyde: A New Musical premiered in La Jolla, CA in 2009 and since that time has literally taken the world by storm with performances in Japan, South Korea, London, and Broadway. The Visalia Players are proud to present its Valley premiere at the Ice House Theatre beginning August 8.
According to cast members and director Corey Ralston, Bonnie & Clyde includes not only their notorious escapades known to most of us, but also scenes from their early lives that help us know these characters beneath the surface. You will see them as real people enduring every day calamities, which shaped their short lives.
Idolizing Clara Bow, Bonnie Parker (Rebecca Coffey) wanted to be an actress. “She wanted to be remembered and loved by everyone. Ironically, she was, but not for acting.” Coffey, a theatre arts graduate from Fresno State, is intrigued by the play for its history. “I had heard of them (Bonnie and Clyde), but now I know their back stories.”
Jonathan Wheeler (Clyde Barrow) identifies his character as a very ambitious smooth talker who wanted a better life and originally tried to go straight. “He was harassed by the police from West Dallas to the point where he couldn’t hold a job, which started him on his crime spree.” Wheeler notes that many of their crimes were for petty sums and that their first bank robberies failed.
Family was very important to the Barrows. Clyde’s brother Buck (Louis Lyons) was in awe of his younger brother. Lyons, a Visalia native, describes Buck as “a simple kind hearted man who loves his wife dearly. He cares less for the law than for family, taking his brother’s side in everything.”
Blanche, Buck’s wife, is portrayed by Krystle McWells, who has been involved in theatre since she was seven. McWells, because of closeness to her grandmother, is very connected to Blanche. “My grandmother was born in Oklahoma in 1920 and died this spring. Blanche was born in Oklahoma in 1910 and married young. Their early lives were similar.”
Ted Hinton (Marcus Cardenas), a Dallas County Deputy Sheriff, was the youngest of the posse that pursued and eventually killed Bonnie and Clyde in Louisiana. Cardenas notes, “Ted is a gentle man who follows rules by the book. He has known Bonnie a long time and is in love with her.”
Director Ralston proudly states that the actors portraying the five major characters have read the 500 page book Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde by Jeff Guinn. “It is important to me and to the cast that we honor these historical people. I think this is very admirable.”
The talented major characters are supported by an ensemble of 18, many of whom play multiple roles. In addition to a large cast, the setting of the play includes many locales, challenging the director and his technical support staff.
Ralston notes, “after researching the history of Bonnie and Clyde, I can say that the book for this show is more accurate that any movie ever made about them. The audience is getting a history lesson which is really cool.”
Everyone involved agrees that the music is outstanding, the story is action packed, and the audience will be entertained from beginning to end.
On Sunday August 17 after the matinee, “Back Stage at the Ice House” will be hosted by Sharon DeCoux, a veteran Visalia Player. Audience members will have an opportunity for a behind the scenes look at the show and the opportunity to ask questions and interact with cast/crew.
Bonnie & Clyde opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 8, 2014 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 8/8, 8/9, 8/15, 8/16, 8/22, and 8/23 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 8/10, 8/17, and 8/24.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
Check out more local theatre reviews this week right here in KRL & even more theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!
To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLBAC in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.