Shadowbox will perform “No Return: The Deadly Dance of Bonnie and Clyde”
“No Return: The Deadly Dance of Bonnie and Clyde,” originally slated to debut in 2020, will open Sept. 15 for a two-month run at 503 S. Front St.
“Bonnie and Clyde’s story is…so dramatic, like a true crime TV show,” the entrepreneur says Katy Psenicka said.
Psenicka conceived, choreographed and directed the piece, from 2019, based on her research into the fleeting lives of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. One of America’s most notorious crime couples from a widely covered manhunt, they were shot by officers in an ambush in 1934.
“What Clyde and Bonnie endured during the Dust Bowl era was incredible…It’s a crazy story of survival with many unreturnable moments. Telling the story through dance shows their path to self-destruction “said Psenicka.
“We put together this cautionary tale to highlight their humanity,” she said.
Dual Cast Showcases Characters
Among the 32 actors, dancers, singers and band members on stage, Psenicka dubbed the four roles of Bonnie, Clyde, Clyde’s brother Buck, and his wife Blanche. To realize Psenicka’s dance-focused vision for “No Return,” one performer dances and another performer sings and pronounces each key role.
“Between the eight of us, you have the complete Barrow Gang,” said Leah Haviland.
Haviland delivers brief dialogue and sings as Bonnie, often in staged moments that lead to Amy Lay dancing the role.
“I love the challenge… You have to be able to distill the emotion into the moment to convey it succinctly to the audience,” Haviland said.
“Bonnie was a dreamer who wanted to be a famous poet, singer, and movie star…In a time of heartbreak and hardship, news locked in on Bonnie and Clyde…With so many fans, they were like the TikTok stars of today,” she said.
Modern songs add a contemporary twist
Brimming with a pop-rock score drawn from Top 40 hits, the two-act dance-theater dramatizes the star-crossed lovers’ two-year crime spree, with flashbacks from their first meeting in the 1930s to the released from Clyde Prison in 1932.
Among Haviland’s songs are alternate versions of Cowboy Junkies’ “Misguided Angel” and Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.”
Other songs on the score come from Fiona Apple, David Bowie, Kate Bush, The Doors, Peter Gabriel, Billy Joel, John Legend, Led Zeppelin, Styx, U2 and other pop/rock songwriters.
“The numbers start in the stage and turn into a dance with the actors moving in the background,” Haviland said.
“Each scene of dialogue helps bring the audience back to the grim reality of the Depression era from the beauty, abstraction and heightened emotions of the dance moves,” she said.
Difficult roles evoke the struggles of the characters
JT Walker dances as Clyde while Jamie Barrow sings and speaks the part.
“Bonnie and Clyde have tragic, self-destructive flaws in the classic sense of tragedy,” Walker said.
“I don’t think those two ever had a chance…or any real chance at happiness,” he said.
In a key dance to Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up,” Walker aims to evoke Clyde’s struggle in prison. “Alone in a jail cell, Clyde feels despair and longing. He’s going through a tough time, being constantly beaten and abused on a whim by the guards,” Walker said.
“Encouraged by a letter from Bonnie, he decides to hold on and keep surviving,” Walker said.
Although Walker has never shared a role like this before, the veteran performer danced the role of Heathcliff in “Madness and Lust,” the troupe’s 2014 dance-drama piece adapted from “Wuthering Heights.” .
“For me, the main attraction of working at Shadowbox is the ability to do so many different things. I don’t know of any other place in the world that offers so much variety and opportunities to learn how to do so much,” he said. he declares.
Video enhancements help tell the story
A characteristic element of “No Return” is its multimedia blend of movement and voice with video.
“More than most of our shows, video helps drive the story forward,” said David Whitehouse, Shadowbox Live’s Director of Digital Content and Design.
“Since the story isn’t told chronologically, the video helps clarify the narrative with flashbacks showing how Bonnie and Clyde first met,” he said.
More videos, mostly shot in 2021, have been added to flesh out the story with several large-scale scenes, including elaborate footage filmed in an estate with a 1936 Ford Model A.
Working with digital designer Zach Tarantelli, Whitehouse developed a video based on Psenicka’s vision and suggestions for historical footage.
“To make it feel authentic, we’ve edited our performers into old black and white newsreels…In a colorful dream sequence, the Barrow gang imagines what life will be like when they’re rich and famous,” Whitehouse said.
Narrative choreography enhances production
Overall, however, the dance and music mostly define “No Return”.
“The choreography is quite complex,” Psenicka said.
“Most people who come to Shadowbox Live may never see a traditional dance performance, but are completely entertained by our dance theater plays. They’re not strictly dance because the choreography is storytelling that makes it more accessible, she said.
The pandemic ended up giving Psenicka and the other members of the troupe’s creative team more time to develop and polish the piece.
“My imagination worked to my advantage during the shutdown,” she said. “It was a blessing in disguise that allowed me to expand the show and go beyond where I normally would have gone.
In one look
Shadowbox Live will perform “No Return: The Deadly Dance of Bonnie and Clyde” at 7:30 p.m. September 15, 2 p.m. September 18, and 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through November 13 at 503 S. Front St Production, originally scheduled for September 8, was postponed for a week as a precaution after two actors and a musician tested positive for COVID-19[FEMININEDesTickets[FEMININEDesbillets costs from $40 to $240. (614-416-7625, www.shadowboxlive.org)