First up is a new show by none other than Frank Wildhorn (The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War, Jekyll and Hyde), who is prolific if not as frequently produced as he once was. I guess Dracula and a divorce will cool down even the hottest of writers. Broadway and this writer have had a love-hate relationship with the guy. Broadway snobbery holds that he is too "poppy", too "commercial." I have no problem with either if the entertainment value is there. I mean I saw Pimpernel at least four times, and I loved (truly, I did) the moving, soaring The Civil War. Oddly enough, I really disliked the Broadway version of Jekyll and Hyde, much preferring the original concept album to the final version. That said, "Facade" remains one of my absolute favorite Broadway tunes ever. Man, is that catchy!
Well, the man with a thousand shows up his sleeve (will Havana ever come to life?) has not one, but two shows going up this month and next, both with reported "Broadway-aimed" status. And considering the talent rallying around each, I wouldn't be surprised to see one or both on the Main Stem in the next year or two.
Bonnie and Clyde began previews Tuesday, with an opening on the 22nd, and running through December 20 at The LaJolla Playhouse. This one intrigues me because I tend to gravitate toward the darker shows and usually find them more perplexing and satisfying than a fluffier piece. Not based on the film, but on real-life accounts, the show chronicles the affair and doom of one of America's most famous criminal couples, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. I think this line from the press release says it all: "This seductive and cinematic new musical examines how a troubled Texas teen and a love-sick waitress became America's most infamous couple, with a thrilling new score that combines rockabilly, blues and gospel music." The words "seductive," "cinematic," "troubled," "love-sick," "infamous," and "thrilling" set off all the goosebumps my theatre loving skin can take! It is an Assassins flashback, I tell you!
I am also excited by the lead casting - the dashing, and younger-looking as every year passes Stark Sands (Journey's End) and the definitely proving she's no reality show flash in the pan Laura Osnes (Grease!, South Pacific). You can sometimes tell a lot about a show from its publicity shots. Look at these! See what I mean about Mr. Sands? Look at the chemistry! What comes to mind here? Seductive, cinematic, troubled, love-sick, infamous and thrilling!
Then there is the creative team: Wildhorn's music, Tony winner (Sunset Boulevard) Don Black's lyrics, Ivan Menchell's book - he of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame, and Jeff Calhoun's direction and choreography - he of Deaf West's Big River and Tommy Tune's Grease! fame.
This is one show I am definitely going to keep an eye on!
(Photos of Bonnie and Clyde by Craig Schwartz.)
Coming soon: the other Wildhorn show opening soon, Wonderland: Alice's New Musical Adventure.