Katie Tonkinson - Alex James-Hatton - Bonnie and Clyde - guns landscape - credit Richard Davenport

Bonnie and Clyde The Musical review: The iconic duo Raise a Little Hell at the Palace Theatre

This musical was based on the real life 1930s criminal duo who grabbed the interest of America and have since been the focus of films, songs, and poems.

Driven by lust for the American Dream and a desire for fame and notoriety, Bonnie and Clyde and their unbreakable bond once again snatch the limelight and capture the attention of the nation – just on the other side of the pond.

Straight from its successful run on the West End, Bonnie and Clyde, the winner of best new musical by WhatsOnStageAward 2023, is now touring the UK.

Sam Ferriday - Catherine Tyldesley - Buck and Blanche - credit Richard Davenport
Sam Ferriday – Catherine Tyldesley – Buck and Blanche – credit Richard Davenport

Set in Texas during the Great Depression, the eponymous couple Bonnie Parker (Katie Tonkinson) and Clyde Barrow (Alex James-Hatton) meet and fall in love. Growing up poor in the middle of nowhere only drove their dreams for a prosperous future. But a childhood surrounded by crime only set Clyde up for a lifetime on the run.

Shortly after their explosive meeting, Clyde lands himself in prison, and James-Hatton harrowingly depicts the abuse that Clyde suffered during his time there in an emotional and powerful rendition of Raise a Little Hell with iconic vocals. His partner-in-crime Bonnie helps him to escape and their joint life of crime on the road begins. Always running and always moving. Until they are stopped for good.

Clyde’s brother Buck (Sam Ferriday) also gets caught up in the criminal lifestyle alongside his god-fearing wife Blanche (Catherine Tyldesley). Tyldesley excellently strikes a balance of serious and comedic with her deep South accent and powerful vocals in You’re Going Back to Jail.

The stand-out moment for me was the emotional duet You Love Who You Love between Bonnie and Blanche as they both recognized the duality of loving a man who was destined to derail their lives. 

Katie Tonkinson - Alex James-Hatton - Bonnie and Clyde 2 - credit Richard Davenport
Katie Tonkinson – Alex James-Hatton – Bonnie and Clyde 2 – credit Richard Davenport

Director and choreographer Nick Winston, currently working on Burlesque, superbly executed a bookending delivery of the plot, opening the show with a dramatic and impactful shootout before going back in time to tell the story of how they got there. Set and costume designer Philip Witcomb utilises top-tier technology, projectors, screens and strobe lighting, to create a wholly immersive and dazzling experience for the audience.

The performance blended fiction and reality perfectly by projecting images of the real Bonnie and Clyde as part of the dark and misty set, as well as displaying some of Bonnie’s original poetry. This helped to add impact to the show by reminding us that the story is true without sensationalising their lives.

There was a slight delay in starting the show due to technical difficulties, but it was well worth the wait. 

The show is at The Palace until 11 May and tickets can be found here https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/bonnie-and-clyde/palace-theatre-manchester/

Featured image credit: Richard Davenport

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Nate Higgers
Nate Higgers
10 May 2024 4:47 pm

Great post!

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