From left: Joseph Kienstra, Olga Intriago and Cameron Elliott in BONNIE & CLYDE at the Henegar Center. Photo by Dana Niemeier.
By KEENAN CARVER
Brevard Culture Theater Critic
Are you ready to have your heart stolen? The Henegar Center’s ruthless “Bonnie & Clyde” aim to do just that.
Boldly directed and choreographed by fearless Artistic Director Amanda Cheyenne Manis, the show places us in the Great Depression and tells the story of a famous real life duo who have a passion for love and crime. With a book by Ivan Menchell, lyrics by Don Black, and music by Frank Wildhorn, Henegar’s third main stage production of the season shines like a clean, new Model T ready for the road.
Production manager Brighid Reppert and technical director Steve Rossi wonderfully execute David McQuillen Robertson’s scenic design. Wooden planks ornament the proscenium arch and are housed together to create multiple flats that are flown in and out providing versatility to the scenes, without compromising the mood and feel of the era.
This versatility gave room to great set pieces and properties, such as the getaway car used for the famous duo. Reppert, also serving as prop design, utilized a slew of tricks to showcase the story. A show favorite are the guns because we all know it would not be a true story about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow without guns and rifles.
If you are anxious about that, don’t hold your breath during the show. Plenty of warning is given.
Lighting designer Joshua Huss underlines the show with punctuated mood and color, allowing for picaresque moments. The flats bear just enough room between the wooden planks to display color from the backdrop, a technique often used.
There is also excellent use of projection in the lighting design, to display setting captions, Barlow Gang’s mug shots, and more. Shannon Reppert’s costume design is era-appropriate and fun.
The real thieves of this full-length production are the stars who hold our heart for ransom.
The astounding duo portraying Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are must-see talent. You hand your heart over to Olga Intriago (Bonnie Parker) who has a wonderful, classic voice. She exudes such charm as Bonnie that you understand why people would want her autograph in the middle of bank robbery.
Cameron Elliot (Clyde Barrow) was seen earlier in the season of Titusville Playhouse’s “Newsies” playing Jack Kelly, a similar role. With a strong voice and unrelenting charm, Elliot proves he can beguile not only any leading lady but any audience as well.
History has the Barrow gang as a seven-member clique, including the unmarried titular couple. Yet, just as the duo were not alone in those earlier, depressed times, Intriago and Elliot were supported by a tight group of ensemble actors.The musical only depicts two others of the gang, Clyde’s older brother and his wife. Kyle McDonald (Buck Barrow), no stranger to Brevard theatre, gives an energetic, truthful portrayal to the conflicted character. His counterpart, newcomer Mahalia Gronigan (Blanche Barrow), proves she will be sought-after talent if she continues to perform in the area. The notorious, sometimes forgotten part of the storyline, is played well by the duo.
Bonnie and Clyde’s young counterparts Connor DeRoche and Sofia Bordner (Young Clyde and Young Bonnie), their mothers SarahBeth Dawson and Leslie Mcginty (Cumie Barrow and Emma Parker), veterans Rob Landers and Joe Horton (Sheriff Schmid and Preacher), Joseph Kientra and Connie Browning (Ted Hinton and Governor Mariam Ferguson) and many more, all give much heart to this production.
Manis states in the program notes regarding the relevancy of the show today: “Seeing the truth of the people reminds us that we haven’t changed much. Poverty and lack of hope will turn people into someone they don’t recognize and desperation will make people compromise their values.”
The beautiful voices of the ensemble blend perfectly, thanks to vocal director Karen Monks, accompanied by the vivacious live orchestration led by music director Jim McCarl.
The musical score is soulful and non-traditional, comprised with hints of gospel, blues, and rockabilly music. One of the many favorite musical numbers of the night is “How ‘Bout a Dance?” sung in sultry style by the gifted Intriago. And, her show-stopping duets with Gronigan and Elliot respectively in “You Love Who You Love” and the act-ender “This World Will Remember Us” both deserve standing ovations.Gearing up for its 100th anniversary on March 29th, Henegar stepped up big time with their production of “Bonnie & Clyde”. In exchange for stealing our hearts, these artists ultimately pour there own hearts out on the stage through this wonderfully intricate historical script and lovely score. You do not want to miss this one.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “Bonnie & Clyde” runs through Feb. 3 at the Henegar Center, 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne. Tickets are $19 to $29. Call 321-723-8698 or visit Henegar.org.