Bonnie and Clyde

Date 14th November 2019
Society Springers Amateur operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue The Cramphorn Theatre Chelmsfford
Type of Production Musical
Director Sharon Scott
Musical Director Ian Myers

Report

Author: Christine Davidson

Springers are always going the extra mile to bring new musicals to audiences and Bonnie and Clyde is no exception.  Written by Frank Widhorn with lyrics by Don Black and based on a book by Ivan Menchell, this show is based on the real life accounts of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker who during the 1930’s depression became newspaper headliners when they killed two policemen.

Bonnie Parker falls in love with Clyde Barrow who is on the run from the law with his brother Buck.  Bonnie played by Ellie West, gave us a confident assured performance as the young pretty woman yearning to be in the films and having her poems published.  Ben Miller was striking as Clyde with good vocals and worked very well with Ellie, bringing an enthusiastic characterisation to his role.  Both were cast well, bringing an air of excitement to the whole show.

Dan Carlton as Buck and Amy Serin as Blanche were also an excellent pairing. I have to admit that Amy’s singing blew me away and I do hope to see more of her in other musicals. She really does have a terrific, melodic voice.  Amy’s rendition of ‘You’re going back to jail’ and her duet with Ellie – ‘You Love who you Love’ were beautifully sung by both of them.  Dan as Buck acted well throughout the show with a particular highlight of his “Raise A Little Hell” duet with Clyde.

Daniel Baker as the Preacher had a great voice and his numbers ‘Gods Arms are Always Open’ and ‘Made in America’ were incredibly strong. Bradley Cole as Ted Hinton and Gareth Locke as the Sheriff gave good cameo roles.

There was excellent support from the cast as Police, State officials, Clyde’s parents, the ladies of the hairdressing salon and ensemble. Bonnie’s mother Emma (Sara Mortimer) acted with emotion on stage and stood out for me as someone to watch.  

A special mention must go to all the younger members of the cast and especially to Maja Skoric as Young Bonnie, who opened the show.  She had great stage presence and a clear strong voice. I’m sure we will see more of her in the future.

The set was simple with a large screen showing period images of the infamous pair and newspaper cuttings. The car with headlights worked well the beginning and end of the production. The crew obviously worked very hard with the changes, getting on and off as quickly as possible but with so many short scenes, it sometimes seemed that they were on more than the cast.

Props and costume were excellent, as was makeup; especially the bruise on Clyde’s face in the prison and the blood, that was used sparingly. The musical numbers were conducted well by musical director Ian Myers and never drowned out the singing.

Unfortunately the lighting was occasionally a problem, with actors in the dark at times, although some of the actors also need to learn to find their light!  I think that this should have been thought through by the technical team. I do know how hard it can be with very little time for the ’get in’ but with a professional lighting team this should have been a lot slicker. Also when each scene went dark it would have been nice to have had some music to cover scene changes rather than sometimes, the waiting silence. Perhaps this should have been recognised during the technical/dress rehearsals. Just little points but worth thinking about as members of the audience were talking about this during the interval.

This show was a brave choice for Springers and I’m glad that they were able to bring this to our attention. I do hope they get larger audiences coming to see it as their hard work and dedication shows up in this production.  Very well done to cast and crew.