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Characters of Buck and Blanche Barrow contrast with those of Bonnie and Clyde


On stage now through January 21 at TheatreZone is Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical.

The focus of the musical is, quite naturally, on Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, but the relationship between Clyde’s brother and sister-in-law, Buck and Blance Barrow, provides not only an interesting subplot, but juxtaposition – particularly the contrast between Bonnie and Blanche.

Where Bonnie is fearless, Blanche is filled with foreboding and trepidation. Where Bonnie is all in, Blanche would love for her and Buck to be all out.

“Blanche tries to keep Buck from falling into the same traps as Clyde,” remarks TheatreZone Artistic Director Mark Danni. “She wants Buck to live a straight-and-narrow life. But Buck and Clyde are very tight. Buck has to be there for his [little] brother. So you see a lot of the frustrations that Blanche has, and the pull that Clyde has, not only with Buck, but everyone because of his charisma.”

Danni notes that the character of Blanche also serves to inject some much needed comedic relief into an otherwise heavy, dramatic storyline. Local actor Rachael Lord plays the part, and Danni praises her amazing comedic timing in discharge of the role.

“She’s not playing the comedy, she’s playing the character,” Danni observes. “If she plays the character correctly, there’s going to be funny moments because of how she’s setting it up. Rachael has an incredible ability to do that. Her timing is unbelievable, but she can also be firm with very good delivery, which is really important for this role.”

These light-hearted moments are especially evident in the show’s beauty salon scenes. Blanche runs the salon and has a wry rapport with the ladies who patronize her little shop.

But there’s little levity in Blanche’s interactions with Bonnie.

“That’s truly how they were in real life,” comments Brittany Ambler, who plays Bonnie Parker. “There’s this duet between Bonnie and Blanche [titled ‘You Love Who You Love’]. They’re singing the same works at the same time, and they’re thinking and living the same things, but on two different spectrums.”

The song is so poignant and the music so gorgeous that “You Love Who You Love” is perhaps Brittany’s favorite number in the whole show.

But Brittany hastens to add that while Bonnie and Blanche are “quite literally the opposite … I also don’t think Bonnie really cared. She was like, whatever. Be Blanche. But they did not mix, truly … they were like oil and water. Did not mesh at all.”

Robert Koutras, who plays Clyde, sums up his character’s relationship with his elder brother in four words: “best friend and tag-along.”

But Koutras acknowledges that there was unmistakable tension between Clyde and his sister-in-law.

“There’s even a line, ‘If I turn myself in, I’ll get the chair,’ he says to Blanche, ‘and as much as you’d love that, I’m gonna pass.’ And so Blanche is not a fan and I don’t think they were ever really tight. But Buck was his brother and best friend.”

As Koutras points out, “Blanche was the only surviving member of the four of them.”

Although she never used a gun, Blanche was blinded in one eye during a getaway in which Buck was shot through the left temple, the bullet traveling just behind the front portion of his skull and out the right temple. She was caught along with her fatally wounded husband by a posse of local men several days later. A photograph shows a distraught Blanche moments after she was pulled away from Buck, who is lying yards to the right. Due to her impaired vision, she thought the camera taking her picture was a gun, and screamed, expecting that she and Buck were about to be summarily shot.

Blanche ultimately served six years in prison for assault with intent to kill the sheriff of Platte County, Missouri. Upon her release, she remarried twice and lived quietly thereafter.

Filmmakers consulted extensively with Blanche for the 1967 movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, however she disliked the way she was portrayed in it despite Estelle Parsons winning an Oscar for the role.

Blanche died at the age of 77 of lung cancer on Christmas Eve in 1988.

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

January 13, 2024.


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