Osnes and Sands Are Shooting Stars of Bonnie & Clyde, the Musical, Opening in CA

By Kenneth Jones
22 Nov 2009

Bonnie & Clyde stars Laura Osnes and Mare Winningham
Bonnie & Clyde stars Laura Osnes and Mare Winningham
Photo by Craig Schwartz

Tony Award nominee Stark Sands and Broadway's Laura Osnes are the notorious American crime couple of Bonnie & Clyde, the new Frank Wildhorn-Don Black musical, opening Nov. 22 in its world-premiere run at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Previews began Nov. 10. With music by Wildhorn, lyrics by Tony Award winner Black, book by Ivan Menchell and direction and musical staging by Jeff Calhoun, Bonnie & Clyde, according to the California not-for-profit, "is based on the lives of Depression-era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose notorious exploits captured the country's imagination. This seductive and cinematic new musical examines how a troubled Texas teen and a love-sick waitress became America's most infamous couple, with a thrilling new score that combines rockabilly, blues and gospel music."

Performances continue to Dec. 20 in the Playhouse's Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, CA.

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Sands appeared in Broadway's Journey's End (earning a 2007 Tony nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Play), and was in Shakespeare in the Park's Twelfth Night in 2009. Osnes played Sandy in the recent Broadway production of Grease, and was Nellie Forbush in Broadway's South Pacific during the maternity leave of Kelli O'Hara.



Two-time Emmy Award winner Mare Winningham ("St. Elmo's Fire," Off-Broadway's 10 Million Miles) is Emma, and Melissa van der Schyff (Deaf West's Big River) plays Blanche.

The company also includes Wayne Duvall as Sheriff, Claybourne Elder as Buck and Chris Peluso as Ted, plus Leslie Becker, Daniel Cooney and Michael Lanning, as well as San Diego actors Courtney Corey, Michael Covert, Victor Hernandez, Michael Mulligan, Carly Nykanen, Mike Sears and UC San Diego MFA student Jessica Watkins.

The creative team includes John McDaniel (music director and orchestrator); Tobin Ost (scenic and costume designer); Michael Gilliam (lighting designer); Brian Ronan (sound designer); Aaron Rhyne (projection designer); Shirley Fishman (dramaturg); and Paul Smith (production stage manager).

Wildhorn is a busy man this fall; his new musical Wonderland will premiere in Tampa before playing Houston.

In 1999 Wildhorn became the first American composer in 22 years to have three shows running simultaneously on Broadway: Jekyll & Hyde, Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War, which together garnered eight Tony nominations. Wildhorn also wrote additional songs for Broadway's Victor/Victoria and was a producer and co-creator of Harlem Song at the legendary Apollo Theater. Most recently in the United States, Wildhorn's For the Glory: The Civil War Musical opened at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, PA.

Wildhorn told Playbill.com on June 5, "When I started working on this show, no one was talking about Bonnie & Clyde. Now, two new books have been published, a remake of the Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway classic film is in production, and the FBI recently released close to a thousand pages of classified memos on the infamous couple.

"Clearly, they are once again piquing the interest of a troubled America. This has been a musical challenge unlike any I've known before. These are the most incredible and intriguing characters I've given a musical voice to.

"Until now, the characters I've written for have been fictional; I've taken theatrical emotions and tried to make them real. With Bonnie and Clyde, I'm taking real emotions and making them theatrical. The exciting libretto, with its danger, pathos and comedy, has inspired a score from country to Texas blues, from gospel to ragtime."

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Lyricist Black received two Tony Awards for Best Book and Lyrics of a musical for his work (with Christopher Hampton) on Sunset Boulevard. This marked his third collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber. They first joined forces to write the song cycle Tell Me on a Sunday which developed to form the basis of the stage show Song and Dance. They were reunited with Aspects of Love. He also wrote the lyrics for the Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced Bombay Dreams. His awards also include an Oscar for his song "Born Free," five Academy Award nominations, and three Tony nominations (two wins), five Ivor Novello Awards, a Golden Globe and many platinum, gold and silver discs.

Menchell (book) wrote the screenplay for the popular film "The Cemetery Club," starring Ellen Burstyn, Olympia Dukakis and Diane Ladd, which was based on his Broadway play of the same name. He also contributed material to the Broadway musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. His Off-Broadway credits include Smiling Through and We'll Meet Again.

Calhoun directed and choreographed the award-winning Deaf West Theatre production of Big River (Tony and Drama Desk nominations, Best Revival; Drama Desk nomination for Best Director of a Musical; Ovation and L.A. Drama Critics Circle awards for Direction and Choreography). Last season, he directed and choreographed the Deaf West Theatre production of Pippin at the Mark Taper Forum. He provided the musical staging for the hit Broadway musical Grey Gardens and developed the first original ASL musical, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, at the Kirk Douglas Theater. Tony Award winner Joe Hardy and Calhoun co-directed Himself & Nora at The Old Globe. He directed and choreographed the 1994 Broadway revival of Grease! (Tony nomination, Best Choreography) and co-choreographed the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun (Tony Award, Best Revival). His Broadway directing debut was Tommy Tune Tonight, and his collaboration with Tune led to the 1991 Tony for Best Choreography for the Will Rogers Follies.

Tickets to Bonnie & Clyde are currently available by calling (858) 550-1010 or by visiting lajollaplayhouse.org.