Monday, Sep 25, 2017
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Music-Theater-Dance

Rep goes gangster with 'Bonnie & Clyde'

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    Kurt Elfering, left, Erica Harmon, Elizabeth Cottle, and Jonathon Masters star in the Toledo Rep's production of the musical 'Bonnie & Clyde.'

    HOLLY OMLOR

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    Kurt Elfering is Clyde Barrow and Erica Harmon is Bonnie Parker in the production.

    HOLLY OMLOR

The Toledo Repertoire Theatre, founded in 1933 and the longest-operating community theater in the city, opens its 85th season Friday with Bonnie & Clyde, a Broadway musical about Depression-era history-makers of an entirely different sort.  

“It was at the height of Bonnie and Clyde's fame, from 1933-1934, that up north in Toledo, Ohio, a new theater company known as the Toledo Repertoire Company was working its way through its very first season. Eighty-five years later, the Toledo Rep is still going strong,” Christopher McAnall, the Rep’s president, said in press materials.

The gangster couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, notorious bank robbers and killers in the early 1930s, became cult figures in 1967 with Bonnie and Clyde, a violent Oscar-winning film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

But Bonnie & Clyde the musical, nominated for a 2012 Tony Award for Best Score and five Drama Desk Awards, including Best New Musical, focuses more on the gangsters’ relationship than on the deeds they had done, telling the human side of the story, said Macaela Carder Whitaker, the Rep’s director.  

Bonnie & Clyde features a variety of musical styles, ranging from rockabilly and rock to jazz, country, gospel, and some ragtime. The music is by Frank Wildhorn, with lyrics by Don Black. The book is by Ivan Manchell. 

The Rep’s cast includes Kurt Elfering as Clyde Barrow, Erica Harmon as Bonnie Parker, Jonathon Masters as Buck Barrow, and Elizabeth Cottle as Blanche Barrow.

Performances of Bonnie & Clyde are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Rep, 16 10th St. Additional performances are at 8 p.m. Sept. 15-16 and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 17, and 8 p.m.  Sept. 21-23 and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 24. Tickets, ranging from $25 to $12, are available from toledorep.org or 419-243-9277.

Bonnie and Clyde is opening what is “probably the Rep’s most ambitious season ever,” artistic director Dave DeChristopher said. “We’re continuing to do everything we’ve done and adding a little more. There is more diversity in our classes than we’ve ever had. And I think we’re making a more conscious effort to get young people involved, giving more opportunities to young people, both [in] working on shows, and having more Mainstage productions with children and teens in them, but also in doing more programming that would appeal to young people.”

The 2017-2018 season brings more attention to the work of area playwrights.

A world premiere production of Human Error, by local playwright Eric Pfeffinger, is a Rep special event with four shows Nov. 17-19. Pfeffinger received a 2016 Ohio Arts Council Award for Individual Excellence for the play with heart and humor in telling the story of two couples brought together by a medical mix-up.

And the Rep plans to continue its Toledo Voices series, which debuted  in February. It featured previously unproduced works by local playwrights presented in staged readings on the 10th Street Stage.

Mainstage shows include the classic musical hit Sweet Charity, which premiered on Broadway in 1966, with a book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman, and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. It will be presented June 1-2, June 8-10, and June 14-17. And the Rep’s holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol, will be staged Dec. 1-3, the theater’s 33rd consecutive annual production of the show.

Mainstage shows also include It Came From Mars, by Michigan playwright Joe Zettelmaier, about a radio show, Farlowe’s Mystery Theatre Hour. One day, rehearsal is  interrupted by a frightening announcement — Martians have landed! Slapstick, romance, and mayhem take over. Zettelmaier’s work has won the 2009 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award and was nominated for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Award in 2011.  The show will be presented Oct. 13-14, Oct. 20-22, and Oct. 26-29. 

Coming in the new year is Ripcord, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Lindsay-Abaire. His comedy is set in a senior living center that houses an unlikely pair of roommates will be presented Jan. 12-13, Jan 19-21, and Jan. 25-28. And Photography 51 by Anna Ziegler, a portrait of the great British scientist Rosalind Franklin, who played a role in the discovery of the structure of DNA, also arrives at the Rep in 2018, with shows March 9-10, March 16-18, and March 22-25.

New series

The Rainbow Play Series will debut in April, presenting staged readings of classic gay plays. The new series opens April 6-7 with The Normal Heart, by Larry Kramer, set during the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York in the early 1980s. It is based on the playwright’s experiences in founding the Gay Men’s Health Crisis advocacy and service organization. The play premiered off-Broadway in 1983 and won the 2011 Tony Award for best revival of a play. 

The new series also will feature The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman, presented April 13-14. The 1934 play is about two friends, Karen and Martha, who run a girls’ boarding school, until rumors started by a student destroy them. 

The season closes with performances April 20-21 of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, by Paul Rudnick, a comedy harpooning political correctness and religious hypocrisy. 

The Young Rep Series will include Pirates! (ages 7-12), presented May 4-6, and Schoolhouse Rock Live! (ages 7-12) Aug. 2-5. Dates for The Teen Musical (ages 13-18), are yet to be announced. 

Contact Sue Brickey at: sbrickey@theblade.com.

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