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Bonnie and Clyde Musical Is Back Home Where it All Began
by Shelley Kenneavy 21 Oct 2014

History, crime, and a love story set in Dallas, all wrapped up in a Broadway musical. WaterTower Theatre in Addison tackles Bonnie & Clyde.

CTA TBD

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John Campione as Clyde Barrow, Kayla Carlyle as Bonnie Parker. Photo: Kelsey Leigh Ervi


 

The musical Bonnie & Clyde played on Broadway. But now, for the first time, it’s being performed on the infamous North Texas couple’s home turf. WaterTower Theater in Addison balances historical facts about the outlaws with legend and romance.

WaterTower’s production opens in Depression-era West Dallas. Clyde Barrow meets Bonnie Parker. They’re a dirt poor couple with big dreams. But honest jobs are hard to come by.

Petty crimes quickly escalate to bank robbery and murder. The Barrow Gang’s infamous crime spree spans the southwest, spikes up north to Minnesota, and ends in an ambush in Louisiana.

The action moves fast, recreating the frenetic lifestyle of the lawless lovers. But it’s the period photos and newspaper clippings, projected on screens above the stage, that help move the audience through the story.

This wasn’t exactly a fresh idea – the projections were included in the original Broadway production – but set designer Sarah Brown did extensive research at the Dallas Public Library to flesh out the original concept.

Brown says, “They have the original news from the Dallas Morning News and several others. And they also have, which was really cool, is Sheriff Schmidt’s scrapbook of newspaper clippings, and that’s where I found a lot of the newspaper clippings that you saw on the screens.”

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Bonnie and Clyde in March 1933 in a photo found by police at their Joplin, Missouri hideout. Photo: Wikipedia

Bonnie and Clyde grew up in tents and shacks in West Dallas. Back then, the area was known as the Devil’s Back Porch. Director Rene Moreno is from Dallas. He finds it intriguing that Bonnie and Clyde once drove the roads he drives today.

“You go into West Dallas and those cement factories are still there,” marvels Moreno. “Maybe more modern versions than they were in the 20s and 30s. And the whole idea of what West Dallas is, obviously that is totally changing now. It’s fascinating to still find those places where Bonnie and Clyde probably drove down these streets.”

Local playwright Vicki Cheatwood provided extensive research on who the characters were and what their lives were really like. She too is captivated by the local connection

“Just driving down those streets and going ‘Oh my gosh, that’s where the Barrows’ gas station was.'” Cheatwood adds, “When I saw the picture of that building I thought, ‘I’ve driven by that a thousand times and had no idea that that was Clyde Barrows family’s place.’”

She hopes the musical will spur an interest in Dallas history: “I would love it if especially younger generations come and see the show and then want to learn more about it.”

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John Campione and Kayla Carlyle. Photo: Kelsey Leigh Ervi

While the musical is more factual than the 1967 film, it IS still a musical. And the focus is on a love story. Moreno says he likes to wonder what Bonnie and Clyde might have been had their circumstances been different.

“Yeah, you know how it’s going to end. But hopefully people will cheer them on and hope maybe for a different ending. What if? What if they had survived? What if they hadn’t done all these awful things and achieved fame in some other way? I still find them fascinating. And I’m glad they’re from Dallas. It’s a crazy thing to say, but I am!”

 

 

The cast put together this music video on their downtime. It’s not music from the show, but it sure is fun!

 

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