Katie Linder –
Every three years something special happens in the Illinois College theatre department. Every three years, the theatre department puts on a musical. This year, the musical, Bonnie and Clyde, will premiere on Friday April 24 at 7:30 in Sibert Theatre.
The show, directed by Professor Nancy Taylor-Porter, features singing and dancing from many talented IC students, including Tamar Norville and Tyler Gillson in the lead roles as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and Drew Stroud and Sarah Kline as Buck and Blanche Barrow, Clyde’s brother and sister-in-law.
A surprisingly wide array of music will be featured during the show. Dr. Abby Musgrove, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities, points out the wide variety of musical genres, including swing, gospel, country, 1930s swing, among others. Musgrove, who is coordinating the music for the show, says, “The music for this show won me over.” Coordinated by Musgrove and featuring music from members of the various choir ensembles at IC, the music in “Bonnie and Clyde” will be remembered long after the show ends.
Musgrove also pointed out that, beneath everything else, “Bonnie and Clyde” is really a love story about two people who really care for each other. “You’re really kind of drawn to that,” Musgrove says. Gillson and Norville, the two leads, complement each other, both with their acting and their voices, successfully portraying the roles of two lovers searching for fame.
Aside from the music and storyline, Taylor-Porter says that the show itself was very well researched and is historically accurate to the lives of Bonnie and Clyde and those around them. “The writers really did their homework on this,” Taylor-Porter says. Rather than being a loose retelling slightly based in reality, this adaptation of the lives of Bonnie and Clyde portrays the events much closer to what actually happened, appealing to anyone who either learned about them in a high school history class or by watching the famous 1967 adaptation starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
In order to successfully prepare the cast to portray real characters with such a historical significance, Taylor-Porter had the cast do some preliminary research into their respective characters to understand more about who they were portraying.
Both Norville and Gillson said that their research helped them to better understand their characters and how to portray them because there are many different thoughts that exist about Bonnie and Clyde. “It’s hard because everyone has their interpretation of Bonnie and Clyde,” Norville said, “their own interpretation and opinions about the trials and tribulations that they went through.”
Providing the historically-accurate background story of the characters also gives the audience a way to understand their upbringings and why their lives turned out the way that they did.
There are many factors that will make opening night of “Bonnie and Clyde” a special night at IC. It will be the first musical since 2012 and the last until 2018. For some IC students, it will be the only musical that they can see or be a part of during their time at IC. Aside from that, the show features many talented actors who have put in a substantial amount of time over the past months rehearsing and faculty members who truly care about their students and this show.
Opening night, on April 24 at 7:30 pm in Sibert Theatre, is a can’t-miss event!
Katie Linder, from Jacksonville, Illinois, is a sophomore majoring in English at Illinois College. Katie is an opinions writer for The Rambler, a consultant in the Campus Writing Center, and a member of the IC concert choir.