By Aline Mahrud
WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHEN?: Sunday 24 April (matinee), booking to 10 July 2022 RUNTIME: 150 minutes (including 1 20-minute interval)
Duet You Love Who You Love between the titular Bonnie and her would-be sister-in-law Blanche is an absolute showstopper as the pair ruminate on their love for Barrow brothers Clyde and Buck.
- Read on for reasons including why this isn’t quite London’s ‘most wanted’ musical
This musical about the famous outlaw lovers during the Great Depression in the US ran for just 33 previews and 36 performances on Broadway in 2011.
However, with music by Frank Wildhorn (who co-wrote Whitney Houston’s Where Do Broken Hearts Go?), a book by Ivan Menchell with lyrics by Don Black, the concert version of this show sold out 2 nights at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in January 2022 starring Broadway’s Clyde Jeremy Jordan and McCann who plays Bonnie here.
The popularity of the cast recording of the show is undoubtedly the reason behind that success and why this audience at the Arts Theatre is quite so excitable ahead of the full West End debut of this show.
When it works, as on the Dolly Parton-esque You Love Who You Love it’s easy to forget that Bonnie and Clyde killed innocent people and policemen as they sought to hold up banks and grocery stores while nurturing a certain fame with the printed press.
The best reason to see this is for the three leads who each bring something unique to a memorable show. Natalie McQueen as Blanche Barrow is an absolute hoot and yet we can’t help but worry that her devotion to Clyde’s brother will be her undoing.
Jordan Luke Gage originated the role of Romeo in & Juliet (Shaftesbury Theatre) and here is pure evil wearing an almost Joker-like, malevolent smile as he entrances Bonnie persuading her to join him on his crimesprees. It was almost as if his bad boy role in Heathers at Theatre Royal Haymarket was an audition for this.
We’re sitting at the end of the 3rd row and Gage even sends a shiver down our spine when he walks through the audience along an aisle brushing past us to make his way to the stage.
McCann may be familiar for originating her Olivier Award-winning role in Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour (National Theatre and West End) and here she embodies Bonnie, a woman who yearns to escape her impoverished upbringing and find some sort of fame.
We also enjoyed Cleve September’s lovelorn deputy sheriff, Ako Mitchell’s impressively-voiced preacher, Pippa Winslow’s many character parts including an under-pressure Governor and Alistair So’s (Anything Goes, Barbican) struggling sheriff.
If we have a problem with the story is that it delves into the titular characters’ back stories and attempts to elicit some empathy from its audience for their behaviour.
The marketing describes this as London’s ‘most wanted’ musical and, while we wouldn’t go that far, it’s definitely worth a couple of hours of your time.