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Brittany Ambler riffs on Bonnie Parker and ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ musical


Brittany Ambler plays Bonnie Parker for TheatreZone in Bonnie and Clyde the Musical.

The character has been one of Brittany’s dream roles since high school, so naturally she’s dived into her character’s early history to better understand what caused her fatal infatuation with Clyde Barrow.

“She was an outgoing, mischievous child,” says Brittany, who became intrigued by “how she grew up, her siblings, family life and stories of when she was a kid.”

There’s much speculation among historians about why Bonnie fell so hard for Barrow when the couple met in 1930. As a teen, she dreamed of becoming an actress someday, so perhaps it was the fame and notoriety that the couple attracted as they robbed countless banks, gas stations and grocery stores in across Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Louisiana, killing at least 13 people along the way.

“I do think that Bonnie loved the thrill of the chase,” Brittany speculates. But what made Bonnie fall instantly in love with Clyde was apparently her realization that they were kindred souls.

“Clyde was not tall and handsome,” Brittany acknowledges, “but he had the same background [as her] and he was someone who struggled too.”

“When Bonnie loved, she loved with all her heart,” Bonnie’s cousin, Bess, said one time. And that was certainly true where Clyde Parker was concerned.

“When she met Clyde, her heart took over,” says Brittany. “She wanted them to lead a truthful life, but [in spite of his refusal or inability to go straight] she couldn’t let go. She couldn’t leave him. They really loved each other in an interesting, toxic way. Magnetic attraction.”

Although a diarist, Bonnie left no entries or letters explaining why she joined Clyde and the rest of the Barrow gang in 1932.

Maybe it was boredom with her life as a waitress or the reality that she didn’t have many prospects aside from those offered by Clyde Barrow. More likely, she felt the need to prove her love and devotion to the man she so hopelessly loved, regardless of the consequences.

“Living on the edge attracted them to each other,” Brittany notes. “There was passion on both ends, and both were headstrong and wouldn’t back down.”

But Bonnie was not naive. She went into the relationship and remained with Clyde with eyes wide open. A poet, she penned a tome titled “The Story of Suicide Sal,” which told the tale of an innocent girl who was lured into a life of crime by her boyfriend.

She was also prescient.

In another poem, “The Trail’s End,” she eerily predicted her gruesome fate with Clyde. “Some day they’ll go down together /And they’ll bury them side by side,” she wrote in the poem’s final stanza. “To few it’ll be grief / to the law a relief / but it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.”

Regardless of what attracted them to each other and kept them together, it was the innuendo of illicit sex that made them icons among the public and the press. Although long separated from her husband, Bonnie was still married and the press pictured the winsome young woman as a machine-gun-toting “cigar-smoking, quick-shooting woman accomplice.”

All that aside, what also makes Bonnie and Clyde so compelling is, without question, the music.

“The music is just beautiful,” Brittany effuses. “It’s got a little rock n’ roll and some emotional, beautiful ballads. Some of the best music I’ve ever worked with.”

Ambler wants audiences to know that the show also contains some comedic moments, “especially with Blanche and her husband, Buck.”

But the real appeal of the show is the great job it does in reminding us that Bonnie and Clyde were not murderous monsters. They were two damaged human beings who went astray.

“There were things that happened in their lives that made them change, and the show does a good job telling that story. The musical does a great job in showing all sides of the story.”

Bonnie and Clyde the Musical plays at TheatreZone January 11 through the 21st.

December 20, 2023.


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