11th Hour is at it again with another rocking concert version of a lesser produced musical. This time, they bring us Bonnie & Clyde with a score by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, Civil War, Dracula) with color-blind casting. A much-added perk to an otherwise colorless book.
Sometimes producing script-in-hand, no frills concert readings can sometimes muddle the story-telling. This time, director Megan Nicole O’Brien uses minimal props, effective spacing and music stand/mic rotations (shout out to the new mic stands!) to effectively dive in to tell a compelling story, albeit a bit long, of one of history’s most notorious duos. If you’re not familiar with Bonnie & Clyde: two lovers with Hollywood lights in their eyes seek fame, fortune, and notoriety go on a crime spree where their reckless behavior leads to their inevitable demise.
Although not catchy, Wildhorn’s score is eclectic and one that captures the deep roots of Philadelphia’s young artists with musical direction from Gina Giachero. Playing various roles, Tiara Greene and Chelsea-Ann Jones, both making their 11th hour debuts, are standouts in both gospel vocal richness and comedic abilities. Bryan Black (Ted) and Kathleen Borrelli (Blanche), Clyde’s brother and sister-in-law, bring the musical theatre sensibilities to the piece with appropriate charm and “schtick”. Clyde, as played by Angel J. Sigala, tried to up the ante with pop vocals as originally portrayed by Jeremy Jordan. Although not as convincing musically, his acting carried the way and made us understand why this duo was so determined to continue their plight. And if you ever wondered what Natalie Portman would sound like if she was on Broadway, well you have it in Rita Castagna who is shockingly only now making her professional debut as Bonnie. Both in sound and stature she encapsulates Bonnie and brings the audience inside her most outlandish choices to believe that we would have done the same. I believe Philly has found their next Gypsy Rose Lee.
With minimal yet effective lighting by Amanda Jansen and sound by Brad Pouliot, the team at 11th Hour pulled off another successful concert. It was a joy to see so many new artists take the stage! The ensemble also includes: Hasani Allen, Mary Fishburne, Megan Ruggles, Nichalas Parker, Tim Hill, Tyler Ivey, and Zummy Rayan.
All Photos by Jenna Pinchbeck of Jenna P Photography