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Robert Koutras uniquely qualified to play Clyde Barrow


Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical plays at TheatreZone in Naples January 11-21. Robert Koutras stars as Clyde Barrow; Brittany Ambler plays the part of Bonnie Parker. Based on the book by Ivan Menchell, the musical recounts the electrifying true story of the notorious duo from the unique perspective of their relationship against a background of extraordinary music.

Although young and poor, Clyde Barrow possessed undeniable charisma. People naturally gravitated towards him. His charisma and meticulous attention to detail in planning their heists explains why he, rather than his older brother, Buck, led the Barrow gang. And although she knew that Clyde was trouble, Bonnie couldn’t help but fall for his boyish good looks and charm. And it’s Robert Koutras’ own bad boy good looks and innate charm that uniquely qualifies him for the role of Clyde Barrow.

“Robert has an innate charm to him, which he brings to the stage,” comments TheatreZone Artistic Director Mark Danni. “It’s important that the audience be on his side, a least a little bit. Of course, they’re not going to approve what he’s doing, but they have to sit there and go, ‘You know, I see what she sees in him.’ They have to feel that.”

Koutras has that enviable ability to win over an audience.

Koutras has done voluminous research into his character with an eye toward making him more relatable to the audiences who come to see the show. “How he got where he got is fascinating,” says Koutras, who notes that what Menchell, lyricist Don Black and composer Frank Wildhorn were able to include in a two, two-and-a-half hour show pales in comparison to the body of research that he’s read. But he’s put the background information to good use. Not only does he approach the role knowing how and why Barrow made the choices he did, but his research informs every aspect of how he portrays his character, from posture and demeanor to how he delivers his lines and sings his lyrics.

“Of course, we have to go with what’s written, what’s published,” Koutras amplifies. That’s the story we’re telling. But the research I’ve done better enables me to get into character and allows me to make the performance of what’s given [in the script] that much richer.”

It also helps him properly convey to his cast mates and the audience Clyde’s intense passion for Bonnie.

“Their romance, intense and fiery, fueled their criminal endeavours, as they seemed to find thrill and fulfillment in their illicit activities,” wrote Alex Andonovska for in September of 2023. “It was a love steeped in danger, an affair that blossomed amidst chaos and lawlessness.”

While they instilled fear and ruthlessness to law enforcement and the victims of their crimes, they were solicitous of one another. Ironically, even as he subjected Bonnie and himself to exponentially increasing risk and danger, Clyde was caring and protective.

The musical does a terrific job of presenting this dichotomy and underscoring Bonnie and Clyde’s connection with and commitment to each other. But while this is built into the fabric of the production by the script and Frank Wildhorn’s score and Don Black’s lyrics, it requires actors with mad skills to evince this complex chemistry on stage in a way the audience can appreciate and accept.

Fortunately, Koutras and Ambler have worked together before. In fact, they both appeared for TheatreZone this past April in Rock of Ages. In Koutras’ estimation, that’s enabled them to hit the ground running in their efforts to depict a couple who lived life in the fast lane that that, to paraphrase the Eagles, surely made them lose their minds.

“Putting the intimacy aspect aside, these two characters truly are together and the audience has to see that chemistry,” acknowledges Ambler. “They have to see us fight. They have to see us get along, handle challenges together and then be intimate too.”

“And when you’re already friends [with your scene partner] and care about them personally, it’s so much easier to effect romance and Clyde’s protective nature in a believable way,” Koutras affirms. “It’s a great combination.”

All of this causes Director Mark Danni to profess that “these actors are spectacular, and it’s going to be a really entertaining evening or afternoon of theater.”

Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical runs January 11-21 at TheatreZone in Naples. Go here for play dates, times and more information.

January 6, 2024.



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