About a minute into the show that bears their names, Bonnie [Parker] & Clyde [Barrow] — those bank-robbing young lovers of the Depression of whom myths, movies and now musicals are made — reached the end of the line Dec. 1 at the Schoenfeld, ambushed by John Law on a lonely country road. That's the way their world ends, not with a bang but with 130 rounds of rat-a-tat-tat. This way they can ride off into the happy ending that eluded them in 24 years of hard living.
It's the devil to pay, sure, but at least Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan are spared that bullet-riddled writhing-around that director Arthur Penn had Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty go through in torturous slo-mo for their 1967 cult film classic (also called "Bonnie and Clyde"). By making crime pay at the beginning, they get a free ride into the sunset at the end.
What, indeed, hath Penn wrought! It's the way he has made the world want to remember those lethal lovebirds. Consequently, a musical version is the short, easy punt from Penn's absurdly romanticized (if ground-breakingly unique) take, and no fewer than five are reportedly in the works in assorted states of completion.
The first to cross the finish line to Broadway is by the most prolific Broadway composer of this generation, Frank Wildhorn. In his seventh fling at the Main Stem in 16 years, he seems to have hit upon the magic combination: the right theatre and an ampersand. Bonnie & Clyde has landed at the same theatre where his first and most successful show played: Jekyll & Hyde. The theatre was called the Plymouth back then, and Wildhorn has responded with his best score since Jekyll & Hyde. Actually, B&C is more varied than J&H.
"That's my lucky theatre," Wildhorn conceded at the Edison Ballroom after-party, "and it certainly worked there before. I hope we'll be there for a while. I believe so much in this show, and audiences have been so beautiful. I can't ask more from them."
His inspiration? "It's the research that Ivan Menchell did and the book that he wrote that inspired me. I was serving the book, that's what I was trying to do."
Tactfully fielded, but he had to admit he didn't write it with lightning speed: "This started as a song cycle I wrote for my ex-wife, Linda Eder, in 1989-1999 when I ran a division of Atlantic Records. Don Black supplied some lyrics so Linda could sing them, and then many years later Jeff Calhoun, the director-choreographer, heard those songs, and the show started to take shape."
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