Even though everyone knows how it's going to end (badly), Bonnie & Clyde will have audiences rooting for the young couple to succeed, even if they are criminals, predicts Kathryn Porterfield, a recent Sam Houston State BFA grad who's playing the lead female role in the musical Bonnie & Clyde.
“They were victims of their times. They weren't going to go anywhere if they didn't do what they did,” she says. The first offering of this season's TUTS Underground 2015-16 season, Bonnie & Clyde is a close-to-home historical retelling of the couple who got together in Texas during the early 1930s, successfully robbing a number of banks while making law enforcement crazy.
“It's such an incredible experience when you get to play someone who actually lived who's an historical figure; there's so much you can find out about them. You get a real sense of who they were. To be able portray her onstage is really incredible,” says Porterfield (recently seen in First Date, the 2015 Houston Theater winner for Best Musical).
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“At the root of it all, she's a young girl and she's got really big dreams. She wants to be a famous actor and a singer and a poet, and she wants to get to Hollywood. And then she falls heads over heels for Clyde and from there, he makes all these promises to her,” Porterfield says. “This is set in the Great Depression and there's not a lot of money for anyone and especially they're in West Dallas, which is the slum of slums. She's 19 and she meets this boy who through his robbing has obtained quite a bit of cash and promises her the world, and she gets kind of caught up in this lifestyle in order to pursue her dreams.”
“Clyde did most of the killing; she did assist him in most of the robberies. You will see her use guns,” Porterfield says, adding that despite this, she believes Clyde killed only when he got backed into a corner. “I don't think either one of them were these bloodthirsty killers the FBI made them out to be.”
With a score from Frank Wildhorn, the story has all the elements of a good musical, Porterfield says. “With the life that they had, it wasn't always glamorous but how exciting it was. Not only the excitement of the shootouts and the robbing but the love. Especially for Bonnie, it's infatuation at first sight. It has everything that makes a good musical.”
Bonnie & Clyde runs October 1-11. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information visit tuts.com or call 713-558-8887. $29-$49.