Review: “Bonnie & Clyde” in Santa Rosa

After a one-year hiatus forced upon them by the renovation of Santa Rosa Junior College’s Burbank Auditorium, the Summer Repertory Theatre program returns with a full schedule of three musicals and two plays running in “rep”. The plays will continue to be performed in Newman Auditorium while the musicals are being done in the SRT Performance Pavilion; an enclosed, air-conditioned, hi-tech tent erected over the campus tennis courts that seats 300 in-the-round.

Their season opened in June with the 147th Bay Area production of Mamma Mia! and continues with the musical Bonnie & Clyde. It had a brief Broadway run in 2011 before being relegated to the regional and community theatre circuit. Opening with the deaths of Bonnie Parker (Jamie Goodson) and Clyde Barrow (Cameron Blakeley), it travels through time from their childhood to their violent end.

Cameron Blakely, Jamie Goodson

Young Bonnie (Evie Goodwin) wants to be a movie star like Clara Bow and Young Clyde (Liev Bruce-Low) wants to be an outlaw like Billy the Kid. Their older counterparts meet cute and in no time one of their dreams comes true. Along for the ride is Clyde’s brother Buck (CJ Garbin), his wife Blanche (Gabbi Browdy), and local constable Ted Hinton (Jeremy Beloate) who pines for Bonnie but will soon join forces with the lawmen sent to track the gang down.

Taking a cue from the 1967 Hollywood blockbuster starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the show presents a highly fictionalized and romanticized version of the story with a book by Ivan Menchell, music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Don Black. Music director Jane Best and a nine-piece orchestra (tucked behind a curtain in the back) do a good job with the mostly-unmemorable mixture of country, blues, and gospel music.

The young cast who, in a rarity, are actually close to the actual ages of the protagonists, do well by their roles with particularly strong work done by Goodson and Browdy. Beloate shines in the show’s stand-out number “You Can Do Better Than Him”.

Director James Newman mostly meets the challenges of performing in-the-round, though sight-line and audio issues are present, especially for those sitting directly in front of the orchestra. The minimalist set by Sarah Beth Hall works and there’s creative use of crates, suitcases and trunks to create various set pieces. Terrific costuming by Megan Richardson evokes the period.

SRT’s Bonnie & Clyde is a well-crafted and well-performed production of a mediocre musical. 

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½

‘Bonnie & Clyde’ runs through Aug. 7 in the SRT Performance Pavilion at Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. Dates and times vary. $25–$28. 707.527.4343.

Photo by Tom Chown

This review originally appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian.

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