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Bonnie & Clyde - SODS, Palace Theatre, Southend

I was quite excited to see this production as I had listened to the soundtrack but had yet to see it performed.
Telling the story of notorious bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, this musical was first  performed in 2009, finding its way to Broadway in 2011. It was not initially well received by critics but was nominated for two Tony awards for its score and leading actress.
It has only recently been available for amateur societies and I have to say SODS did not disappoint.

The slick set which consisted of 3 levels, a sliding centre wall and several projections, often of real life images of the pair and the newspaper articles was fantastic.
Taking on the title namesakes of Bonnie and Clyde were Sophie Cave and Declan Wright. 

They both executed the vocals required for parts that rarely leave the stage and often need the ability to belt out number after number but for me what was far more important was that they didn’t rest on the fact they had the ability to sing the numbers but they acted their way through all the numbers, as well as the dialogue, which is vital to give us, the audience, the ability to relate to the characters as people not just infamous outlaws but people. Sophie’s performance of ‘Dyin’ Ain’t so Bad’ was beautiful.  A huge congratulations to them both.

However, this is not just about the love story of one couple, it also tells us about Clyde’s brother Buck and his wife Blanche who have an equally sad story to tell. Buck, played by John Staines was a strong and confident performer who gave us belief in the love he had for his brother which conflicted with the love he had for his wife. He was certainly well paired with Heather Cooper as his wife Blanche, who was a delight to watch. She has the wonderful number ‘You’re Going back to Jail’ which I love but for me the highlight tonight was her duet with Sophie – ‘You Love Who you Love’ -  which I found simply spine tingling.

I have also to give a little constructive criticism in that with the strong southern American accents often the lyrics were lost and as I have heard them numerous times and still couldn’t understand them, someone new to the show would struggle even more and this was a comment I heard during the interval. Diction is key!

The rest of the company gave some great performances but one other that stood out for me was Sara Hickling as Emma Parker, her portrayal of Bonnie’s mother really hit the spot.
I felt this is not necessarily a company show for amateur societies, with only two company numbers even though they were well led by Jonny Buxton as The Preacher.  However, tonight it was like a professional show with even the young Bonnie & Clyde played by Lola Larke and Angelo Montanaro in tonight’s performance being of such a high standard.
The orchestra were well balanced and gave a great sound and the lighting was superb giving some beautiful pictures and supporting some really emotive moments.

I simply loved the show this evening and if you don’t know it then you really should go and see it as it’s a great night’s theatre, which did leave me with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye at the end.
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