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Musical 'Bonnie and Clyde' at Collaborative Theatre Project

During the era of public enemies in the early '30s, ill-fated lovers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow became notorious for robbing banks, grocery stores and gas stations, and killing policemen and civilians.

The duo had started life at the bottom of the heap. Parker, a 20-year-old waitress when she met Barrow during the Great Depression, was obsessed with picture shows and fancied herself an actress, just like silent film star Clara Bow. Clyde's incarceration at a prison farm had hardened him as a criminal, and he was cold and ruthless — except to Bonnie.

The desperate social conditions of the Depression led others to make folk heroes of them, and they were considered modern-day Robin Hoods, fighting against big business and politicians. Though, in reality, they were as brutal as John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd.

Now, a song cycle with book by Ivan Menchell, music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Don Black tells the story of Parker and Barrow. With elements of country music, blues and Broadway pop, the show features a couple dozen tunes, including "God's Arms Are Always Open," "You Can Do Better Than Him," "You Love Who You Love," "Raise a Little Hell" and "This World Will Remember Us."

"Bonnie and Clyde" opens Friday, July 21, and runs through Aug. 20 at Collaborative Theatre Project's performing arts venue in the Medford Center, off Jackson Street and Biddle Road. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 1:30 Sundays. Tickets are $25, $20 for seniors and students, $18 for ages 17 and younger, and can be purchased at ctporegon.org, by calling 541-779-1055, or at the box office.

Organic treats will be provided by The Rogue Traders at the opening night show. A preview performance is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 20. Tickets are $10 for general seating and only available at the door.

Rebecca K. Campbell directs, and the principal roles are played by Grace Peets and Eoghan McDowell. 

“We see Bonnie and Clyde consumed with the passion they felt for one another, but which ultimately leads to their demise,” says Campbell in a press release. "'Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad,' a particularly touching ballad, is a window into Bonnie’s soul. It won’t be hard for her to die if Clyde is with her. She has no desire to live a moment without him. This is a love story that blurs the lines between right and wrong, fame and destruction."

Music director is Karl Iverson, and assistant director is Sarah Gore. CTP's cast, along with Peets and McDowell, includes Strand Hill as Buck Barrow, Sabrina Hebert as Blanche Barrow, Peter Wickliffe as Ted Hinton, David King-Gabriel as Preacher, Carol Weekley as Emma Parker and Kathleen King as Cumie Barrow. William Coyne, Sarah Gore, Iris Goldie, Eliza Connolly, Mason Hill and Nicholas Janisch round out the ensemble.

Depression-era costumes are by Mahri Gwynn Gray, scene design by Kelsey Garrett, and sound, lighting and video design is by Mike Kunkel.

"Bonnie and Clyde" premiered in 2009 in La Jolla, California. The musical made its Broadway debut in late 2011. It was nominated for three Outer Critics Circle awards, five Drama Desk awards, including Best New Musical, and two Tony Awards.

CTP’s performing arts space features a gallery entrance. Local mosaic artist Karen Rycheck will display her artwork there throughout the run of the show. Rycheck holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture from Webster University in St. Louis, and she worked as an artist at the St. Louis City Museum. In 2004, she moved to the West and was commissioned to create a mosaic for the Oregon Zoo in Portland. She has also received commissions from the cities of Ashland, Grants Pass, McMinnville and Talent.

Eoghan McDowell and Grace Peets play Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker in Collaborative Theatre Project's production of 'Bonnie and Clyde.' [Photo courtesy of CTP]