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Theater Review: 'Bonnie & Clyde' -- 2.5 stars

Laura Osnes, left, and Jeremy Jordan in “Bonnie

Laura Osnes, left, and Jeremy Jordan in “Bonnie & Clyde.” (Nathan John) Credit: Laura Osnes, left, and Jeremy Jordan in “Bonnie & Clyde.” (Nathan John)

Bonnie & Clyde
2.5 stars

To say that "Bonnie & Clyde" is the best musical to date composed by Frank Wildhorn, whose previous works include the cult hit "Jekyll & Hyde" and countless flops like "Wonderland" and "Dracula," is still not saying very much - it's only barely a compliment.

Although "Bonnie & Clyde" is not a formal adaptation of the 1967 film of the same name, it too dramatizes the famous story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the iconic couple who gained fame during the Great Depression for their string of bank robberies.

This really had the potential to be an entertaining, action-packed musical. Yet in spite of a mostly pleasant country-and-blues score and strong, sexy performances from the doll-faced Laura Osnes and heartthrob Jeremy Jordan, this remains a problematic show that lacks focus and tends to pause and meander too often.

Bonnie and Clyde are depicted as innocent dreamers scarred by poverty and an oppressive social climate. But by trying to justify their crimes, the play simplifies the psychological elements that made the film so gripping and reduces its two main characters to cardboard cutouts.

In one key difference from the film, Clyde is not depicted as impotent. Also, a police officer smitten with Bonnie is added as a dull character.

The show's opening is particularly bad. After Bonnie and Clyde are shown motionless and all bloodied up after being killed in a hail of bullets, two kids play their younger selves until they are finally replaced by Osnes and Jordan.

Jeff Calhoun's intimate production, which projects images of the real-life Bonnie and Clyde on the background of the wooden-plank set, is handsome but takes the violence to an unnecessary extreme: Blood is seen gushing out of victims, and the gunshots tend to be extraordinarily loud.

If you go: "Bonnie & Clyde" plays an open run at the Schoenfeld Theatre. 236 W. 45th St., 212-239-6200,

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