D on Black was on "red alert" this week. The English lyricist was in Sarasota to do intensive work on his songs for the new musical Bonnie & Clyde, which has a country and bluegrass score by Frank Wildhorn. It opens the mainstage season at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota.
"I've been rewriting all the time," Black said. "That goes with the territory in a musical."
Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan star in the musical that premiered last year at the La Jolla Playhouse in California. Osnes, who originated the role of Bonnie Parker, played Nellie Forbush in the Broadway revival of South Pacific. Jordan, who played Tony in the Broadway revival of West Side Story, is new as Clyde Barrow. Stark Sands had the role in La Jolla.
Black, whose credits include Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard, several James Bond movies and an Oscar for the theme song of Born Free, sees the Depression-era saga of Bonnie and Clyde as a gritty love story. The show got generally good reviews in California.
"We were very pleased with the reception in La Jolla, but the one negative we heard consistently was that we didn't show the dark side of Clyde," said Black, 72, who lives in London. "So now we have a new song from Clyde's time in prison, where he had a lacerating experience. They say that poverty made Clyde a criminal, and prison made him a murderer."
Bonnie & Clyde is being touted as Broadway bound. Wildhorn's Wonderland, which premiered last year at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, is already set to go there in the spring. It will have a pre-Broadway run at the Straz Jan. 4-16.
Jeff Calhoun is directing Bonnie & Clyde, whose book is by Ivan Menchell (The Cemetery Club, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). "It's an unusual musical in that it draws a male audience, and a young audience," said Calhoun, who also directed in California.
Bonnie & Clyde has previews starting Nov. 12 and opens Nov. 19 to run through Dec. 18. $17-$65. (941) 351-8000 or toll-free 1-800-361-8388; asolorep.org.
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Nigel Potts gives a recital tonight on the Heissler organ at the St. Petersburg College Music Center. Potts, a New Zealander who is organist of Christ and Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in New York, will play works of J.S. Bach, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Purcell and more at 7:30 tonight at the center, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $10, and free to SPC students and staffers. (727) 341-7984; spcollege.edu/spg/music.
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Jack Heller has led the Tampa Bay Symphony since its inception in 1986, and this weekend he begins his final season on the podium. Heller, professor emeritus in the school of music at the University of South Florida, has programmed favorites for his swan song. The all-volunteer orchestra will play Beethoven's Eighth Symphony, Sibelius' Finlandia, Hanson's Love Duet from the Merry Mount Suite, Barber's Essay No. 2 and the overture from Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmilla at 4 p.m. Sunday at Ferguson Hall of the Straz Center and 7:30 p.m. Monday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. The concert at Ruth Eckerd will feature the John Hopkins Middle School Orchestra playing 7 to 7:30 p.m. $20, with $5 student admission. (727) 595-0345; tampabaysymphony.com.
John Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716. He blogs on Critics Circle at tampabay.com/blogs/critics.