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Bonnie & Clyde

Frank Wildhorn's blend of pop sounds, period tunes and Broadway bombast, along with Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes' electrifying performances, are all grandly preserved on the just-released original cast recording of Bonnie & Clyde (Broadway Records) -- produced by Wildhorn with orchestrator/arranger John McDaniel and David Lai -- and now available from iTunes and set for in-store release on April 24.

As the show charts Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow's crime spree, which gripped the nation during the Depression era and which continues to linger in our collective imagination, Wildhorn's music often evokes the period.

That is particularly true in some of the show's earliest numbers, notably the Charleston-infused "Picture Show," which is delivered by the title characters in both pre-teen (solid performances from Talon Ackerman and Kelsey Fowler) and adult incarnations, and in the haunting ballad "How 'Bout a Dance?," purred with a subtle sultriness by Osnes.

Unfortunately, as the pair's exploits become more violent and adrenaline-charged, Wildhorn's score (which receives little help from Don Black's lyrics) becomes increasingly eclectic. Some numbers sound as if they might have pulled from the pop charts of the 1970s and 1980s, while others are inspired by hard rock, funk, and electric blues. While this mix of styles can feel disconcerting (and certainly did on stage), some listeners may even begin to wonder if the amalgamation of sounds is intentional and meant to place the historical events in a broader continuum of how poverty can inspire crime regardless of period.

Regardless, there's no questioning the sheer vocal power and emotional intensity that Osnes and Jordan bring to the work. Her clarion voice delicately caresses even the most driving melodic line. Meanwhile, his vocals are filled with a fiercenes that's underscored by an almost supple impetuousness, and in "Raise a Little Hell," one even hears a modicum of wounded vulnerability. And their voices can often blend to delicious effect, particularly in the melancholy waltz, "What Was Good Enough for You."

Alongside the pair are Claybourne Elder and Melissa van der Schyff as Clyde's brother and sister-in-law, Buck and Blanche. Elder's vocals communicate the character's vivacious dimness effectively and charmingly, and van der Schyff brings a country-friend sass to her numbers, both the curious comedy number, "You're Going Back to Jail," and the Continental torch song "That's What You Call a Dream."

Accompanying the disc, which also includes a bonus track of a gorgeous number cut from the show as it developed, is a stunning booklet filled with not only a plethora of color pictures from the Broadway production, but also some great black and white photos from the period. The synopsis and lyrics are also complemented by brief essays from Wildhorn, Black and McDaniel, and there's even a reprint of one of Bonnie's original poems, "The Trail's End (aka The Story of Bonnie and Clyde)."


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