Bonnie  Clyde orig Cast Album

Bonnie & Clyde

Original Cast Recording

Broadway Records

Released April 2012

Some critics have not always taken well to Frank Wildhorn's material. He hasn't had it easy with some elitist/traditionalist Broadway prophets who might be less enthusiastic about many of his pop-rooted songs. Cole Porter he ain't.

Well, this critic has always liked his work and my digital and listening devices have gotten a lot of mileage out of Mr. Wildhorn's songs. His tunes have struck the right chord with the public as well judging by the many fan sites he has. Add Bonny & Clyde to that list. Since 1995 and that Jekyll and Hyde Complete Works was released, I've been rather hooked on this composer's songs. Yes, I am a traditionalist as well. But I also totally enjoy the contemporary flavor he imbues with such flair.. After all, let's face it, the golden age of great musicals is dead! We have to deal with what and who we have on the boards today. I mean, Green Day on Broadway in a sell-out show? Sondheim has earned his revered status with sophisticated lyrics and very complex melodies that are quite brilliant if not always “commercial.” Kander and Ebb have earned their own legend as has Jerry Herman. The list goes on. The debates will go on. But back to Frank Wildhorn – and Bonnie & Clyde.

Somewhere in that mix of today's greats is Frank Wildhorn whose shows have enjoyed considerable success in one of the most competitive milieus in all of Show business – Broadway. Agree of disagree, Wildhorn has earned his stripes and is here to stay. For instance, is there anyone who doesn't know “This Is the Moment?” And, of course, he has played a huge part in the career of ex-wife Linda Eder, who remains one of today's most glorious voices and is constantly compared to Streisand.

What I like most about Frank Wildhorn is that he beats and pounds a different drum – his own. And, usually, his scores invite listening to over and over. Welcome Bonnie & Clyde.

This is a more mature and deceivingly complex score than in the past. Wildhorn manages to capture the melancholic, heartfelt expressionism of the ravaged  depression era. And, he wraps it all in a rockabilly sound that percolates with the needed yearning sounds of the day. All the while, the listener never forgets that this is Broadway. The line is fine between rockabilly and musical theatre. And, Wildhorn treads it with finesse. Throughout this recording, the madness and ragings of the main characters are all laid bare. The listener is easily swept away.

There are some terrific highlights including Clyde's Raise A little Hell, perfectly performed by Jeremy Jordan. Blanche/Buck's you're Goin' Back To Jail, Bonnie and the couples This World Will Remember Us all stand out as well written songs worthy of a longer life. Their duet on Picture Show is also a real winner.

All through the show, the score fuses this country/western feel with a bit of gospel and blues. Such genres were all prevalent in the south in those days. Don Black's lyrics fluidly blend the songs and the time period with exceptional style.

Jeremy Jordan as Clyde, whose star is rapidly rising with him currently starring in Newsies and as he becomes a regular on the NBC television hit “Smash” in the fall, is nothing less than excellent here in his breakout role. He was a perfect choice. Another good choice is Laura Osnes as Bonnie. Her reading of How 'Bout a Dance? will break your heart. She is already climbing fast and has gained the respect of the industry. Melissa van der Schyff (Blanche,) Clybourne Elder (Buck,) Michael Lanning (the preacher) and Louis Hobson as the sheriff have great turns and are well cast and excel in their respective roles here.

A 23 page booklet comes with the album filled with great pictures of the era that outlines the story of Bonnie and Clyde as well as the lyrics.