The Column Online



By Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics by Don Black and a Book by Ivan Menchell

Denton Community Theatre

Directed by Daniel Bryant-Gawne
Choreography by Amanda Guerrero & Logan Coley Baker
Musical Direction/Conductor by Benjamin Brown
Costume Design by Logan Coley Baker
Lighting Design by Les C. Deal
Scenic Design by Pete Kelly
Sound Design by Jason Rochester
Stage Management by Jessica DeLeon

Clyde Barrow-Alex Peters
Bonnie Parker-Anna Pena
Young Bonnie-Isabella Rose
Emma Parker-Sara Martin
Preacher-Ron L. Chapman
Young Clyde-Lukas Jiminez Bolin
Buck Barrow-Chance Gibbs
Blanche Barrow-Delace McMahan
Ted Hinton-Joshua Littleton
Frank Hamer-John Rodgers
Ensemble/Various Characters-Aaren Cadd, Alberto Sánchez, Gary Fulton, Dawson Booker, Casey Edwards, Darby Birdwell, Priscilla Hatcher, Tony Rose, Søren Wilkinson Andrews, August Riehle, Brett Lee, Sarah DuPlanty, Noah Waddell, Brandy Ellen Leach, Bridgette Pineau, Tobias Smith, Melissa Schneider, Teagan Yale Titterington, Ava Bohnert.

Reviewed Performance: 8/11/2017

Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

We live in Southeast Dallas. My wife gets home around five, a quick clothes change and freshen-up and we jump into the car. We head north to Denton on 35-E on a Friday night around 6:00 PM praying all the while to the traffic gods that we have a clear path. Our prayers having been, mostly, answered we arrive at the Denton town square with enough time to grab a bite and revive from the car trip. 7:15 PM arrives and we go to the historic (and might I add beautiful) Campus Theatre, get our tickets and head to our seats. Curtain time arrives with the pre-requisite curtain speeches and presentations, then the lights dim and Alice and I buckle-up for another road-trip for the next roughly two and a half hours with the opening night of Bonnie & Clyde-the Musical.

Was it worth the trip?

Yes! Director Daniel Bryant-Gawne assembled a very competent cast and a talented orchestra and production crew to take us on a wild trip traveling from the 20’s to the mid 30’s of the twentieth century. We begin with a projected image that takes us to the end of the journey and for those of you who have never heard of Bonnie & Clyde I give a spoiler alert. For as in all movies and the musical about the Titanic (The ship sinks.), in this play we are informed right away that the titular couple dies in hail of gunfire at the hands of a posse. Where do we go from there?

Well, we must find out the background and circumstances that led them to that horrid end. The musical takes us back to the childhoods of Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Champion Barrow. Young Bonnie ((played beautifully by Isabella Rose) and Clyde (portrayed with great stage presence and gusto, Lukas Jimenez Bolin) let us know that Bonnie is obsessed with movies (particularly with the movie star and ‘It’ girl Clara Bow) and wants to be famous. Clyde idolizes outlaws (Billy the Kid being his hero) and boasts that there is nothing he can’t do with a gun. And thus, with a little heavy-handed fore-shadowing we begin the journey of two star-crossed lovers’ eventual rendezvous with death.

This is a sprawling story-line and encompasses many locations. This can be a nightmare for a set designer. Scenic designer Pete Kelly made these transitions easier by providing two platform units that fit in to the scenery wall and then pulled out and turned to provide various locations (café, jail cell, Ma Parker’s living room, sheriff’s office, etc.). The middle of the stage provided space for the various other prop pieces (car, teller’s window, various tables, etc.). Except for an occasional stutter, the set changes were very quick and efficient. Many thanks to the stage crew and the actors who made this possible.

The orchestra covered the back of the stage and was the literal, musical center and driving force of the musical. Ably conducted by Benjamin Brown the orchestra played everything from Ragtime to Jazz to country with great skill. They never over-powered the actors. And there was a lovely Dobro lick from time to time that indicated that dirty work was about to be done. The orchestra was wonderful all the way through.

The story does not proceed without Bonnie and a Clyde, and those roles are filled by two very talented actors, Anna Pena and Alex Peters, who portray the adult versions of this Tommy gun carrying duo. Ms. Pena is a lovely presence and makes Bonnie a wistful yet strong person. Her desire for fame and her need for love drive her loyalty to Clyde no matter what road he leads her down and Ms. Pena aptly shows us this. It’s not the life of crime that makes her happy, it’s Clyde’s love as well as the fame. Ms. Pena’s acting and singing give us all of Bonnie’s longing with a loveliness that matches her presence.

Mr. Peters is a force to be reckoned with. His portrayal of a cocky, self-assured charmer with a hard-scrabble background is stunning. He makes us believe that he turns to crime to escape the unemployment and hopeless that await in the law-abiding world. He, like Bonnie wants fame but he intends to take it by force. Mr. Peters’ voice can carry the love Clyde has for Bonnie (a lovely song in act II where he easily goes into falsetto and throughout the piece conveyed so much genuine emotion I almost cried) and then can pound out the primal rage of one debased by the prison system and longs for revenge (the song “Raise a Little Hell”). To follow a character who is a killer and a thief all the way through the night requires an actor with great charisma and Mr. Peters has more than enough to get us through the journey.

Together they have great chemistry and make an evening of robbery and murder down-right enjoyable. They are supported by a competent cast. DeLace McMahan has a strong singing voice and steel spine which suit the character of Blanche Barrow well. Chance Gibbs seemed to show a little bit of tentativeness with his part on opening night, occasionally going in and out character. Yet he has a very likable presence and I’m sure he’ll get stronger as the run progresses. As the Preacher, Ron L. Chapman exhibited a sense of authority and caring.

And don’t let the words community theatre worry you. The key word is community and that was evident by the almost full house on opening night. The theatre was filled with family and friends and supporters of the theatre and you can’t help but feel lifted by that kind of energy. It true that some of the people on stage had varying degrees of stage experience but that does not detract from the production. Their presence, which encapsulate a commitment of time and talent, is buoyed by the support of the community and adds so much to the show. I’m glad we made the made the trip. There is one more weekend of shows left. Make the journey as well.

Denton Community Theatre
August 11, 12, 17, 18 & 19-7:30 p.m.
August 13 & 20-2:00 p.m.
The Historic Campus Theatre
214 W. Hickory
Denton, TX 76201
For Tickets call the Campus Box Office
At 940-202-1020 or visit