“A club of individuals” – my mom and I appear with Terry Doran and Patty Hunter on “Patty’s Page” (Allen County Public Library TV)

Enjoy this freewheeling hour of my mother Susie Duncan Sexton and me alongside Terry Doran and Patty Hunter on “Patty’s Page” (Allen County Public Library TV). 

We discuss art and animals, free expression and individuality, writing versus authorship, movies, Columbus (Ohio!), advocacy and storytelling, as well as upcoming events including the May 9 grand opening of the Historic Blue Bell Lofts (dress code: blue jeans!) in Columbia City, Indiana, and my upcoming appearance June 1-4 in The Mystery of Edwin Drood with Ann Arbor Civic Theatre in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Special thanks to lovely producer Bob Hunter for all his glorious behind-the-scenes work and to my dad Don Sexton for the off-camera commentary.

View here: https://youtu.be/odbivWmG6J8


Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

“There’s no contribution at our level. Just the illusion of contribution.” Hell or High Water and Southside With You

Hell_or_High_Water_film_posterDancing between the raindrops. One of the most powerful and essential things that film can do, arguably unlike any other medium, is to transform the smallest moments of daily life into something poetic, allegorical, epic, and identifiable. Film, at its best, is a concise narrative, simultaneously immediate and retrospective, exploring an embedded assumption that one exchange, one decision, one day can change a lifetime.

Two movie gems, exemplifying this remarkable storytelling attribute, are currently eking out a quiet subsistence in a far corner of your local multiplex. Stroll past the escapist CGI gargoyles, laser blasts, and gross out gags of those late summer wannabe blockbusters taking up the IMAX screens, and make your way to that tiny, itty bitty screening room. You know the one, beyond the garish birthday hall, clanging arcade, and Dippin’ Dots (“Ice Cream of the Future!”) outpost, at the far end of the hall … the one that seems like its sole existence is as a concession to the public television/NPR crowd or because an extra broom closet wasn’t needed? And catch Hell or High Water and Southside with You on the big-ish screen before they are consigned to Netflix next month.

Hell or High Water is as perfect a Valentine to people who love movies as I’ve ever seen. It wears its cinematic influences proudly and confidently, like that person in  your office who has figured out how to mix stripes, plaids, and polka dots into a breathtaking ensemble. Director David Mackenzie (Young Adam) mines A Touch of Evil (the tracking shot that opens Hell or High Water is a smooth, small-town honey), No Country for Old Men (dusty postmodern desperation), Giant (watch Hell or High Water‘s final front-porch confrontation and tell me I’m wrong), East of Eden (imagine Cal and Aron as kinder, gentler, floppy-haired Natural Born Killers), and Dog Day Afternoon (shaggy, sweaty bank robbers who have Robin Hood-aspirations to right the personal wrongs that corporate America has inflicted and who are destined to fail … spectacularly). Throw in one of the best depictions of Dust Bowl brotherly love/hate since Sam Shepherd’s classic play True West and pair it with the corrosive antipathy toward American Big Banking and the mortgage industry that The Big Short failed to capture compellingly, and you have a film for the ages.

Star Trek‘s Chris Pine (all dreamy, haunted dissipation) and 3:10 to Yuma‘s Ben Foster (Sean Penn 2.0 … damn, but he is SO good, and Foster even was engaged to Robin Wright Penn – twice – after she divorced Sean) play Toby and Tanner Howard, locked in a toxic cycle of arrested development, one a loyal son but failed husband and the other a loyal brother but ne’er-do-well prodigal. Toby has cared for their dying mother and stands to inherit the dilapidated family homestead (with its recently discovered oil reserves) if he can climb out from under the crushing reverse mortgage that mama foolishly, but necessarily, took out and which is now careening toward foreclosure. Tanner, whose lengthy prison record includes time for bank robbery but surprisingly not for murdering their abusive father, is the anarchic muscle, a Looney Tune with nothing to lose who helps support the otherwise straight-arrow Toby’s scheme. Their plan? Swipe just enough cash from the teller drawers of that very predatory lending bank holding the deed to the family home, pay said bank back the money, secure the land and the oil rights, and leave it all in trust to Toby’s two sons. It’s like the perfect Playhouse 90 – on steroids.

Oh, and the whole enterprise is set among the Great Recession-scorched badlands of Western Texas, where the endless dirty, rusty miles between neon-lit casinos are dotted with billboards touting “Instant, Easy Debt Relief” like Faustian blood-pacts with the financially damned. The long (and folksy) arm of the law is ably represented by True Grit’s Jeff Bridges (absolute mumble-mouthed perfection as Marcus Hamilton, a Texas Ranger who views his impending retirement as more of a death sentence than an earthly reward) and Twilight‘s Gil Birmingham (as Alberto Parker – comically poignant gold, playing the stoic straight man, enduring a steady stream of Marcus’ jabs, zingers which shock for being as loving as they are racist).

The film is picaresque, taking place over the course of just a few days. And it is a beauty, well-acted and crafted with such thoughtful precision that it stuns in its quiet verisimilitude. It is an indictment and celebration of the day-to-day crushing dreariness of American life – divorce, mortgages, child care, jobs, ambition, law and order, vanquished dreams – depicting a society that by dint of its unintentionally intentional design oppresses the brightest of hearts, turning mere survival into insurmountable distress. And don’t get me wrong, the movie is still an entertainment of the highest order, bleak but funny and engaging as hell.

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

Southside with You – otherwise known as the “Obamas’ first date movie” – is a fabulous companion piece to Hell or High Water … believe it or not. Whereas Hell or High Water tweaks the template of “caper flick” into allegory for the complex economic forces that damn the American Dream while simultaneously dangling it before our collective faces, Southside with You takes the “romantic comedy” genre and infuses it with a subtle condemnation of the race/class warfare that squelches opportunity for too many Americans.

Zero Dark Thirty‘s Parker Sawyers (a fellow Wabash College graduate, though our time in those hallowed halls, alas, did not overlap) and Sparkle‘s Tika Sumpter (also acting as a producer on the film) are luminous as the eventual First Couple: Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson. Director Richard Tanne grounds the proceedings in a lush but gritty depiction of the scruffy joys of Chicago-life, and his two leads reward him (and the audience) beautifully. They are so good, subtly evoking mannerisms and vocal stylings, without ever resorting to caricature.

The film opens as these two prepare for the date – Michelle in denial (sort of) that it actually is a date – interacting sweetly with family members, electric in their nervous anticipation of the day before them. There is a gangly charm to these early scenes, humanizing two historical figures whose global accomplishments may have placed them in that unreachable classification: icon. It’s a smart narrative move for all involved.

As the film progresses, we learn that Barack is a summer associate at Michelle’s firm, and she has been assigned as his mentor. Set in the summer of 1989 (and, wow, does Tanne get that right from the fashion and the set direction to the cars and the music, including vintage Janet Jackson and Al B. Sure! playing on the radio), Michelle is cautious about the challenges facing her as a woman of color in a white man’s world, and she will be damned if this upstart intern is going to derail her career with his romantic overtures. He, on the other hand, is as earnest as he is charming, and it is evident that the engagement of each others’ impressive intellectual capacity – their beautiful minds – is how this romance blossomed and flourished.

Southside with You mostly sidesteps the pitfalls of movie biography (the pressing need to tell a whole lot in two short hours) by focusing on just this one day. Given that the narrative hook is a date, the characters have the latitude to ask a lot of questions as they get to know one another, and, by extension, we, as audience members, catch up on essential biographical detail and helpful context. Ninety-five percent of the time this works beautifully, aided and abetted by the naturalness of the performers, but a few moments are jarringly expository (particularly the discussion in the park about Barack’s upbringing) and make Southside with You feel like more of a stage play than a film. Nonetheless, those flaws are few and far between, and as the film moves toward the inevitability of its conclusion, we as viewers are gifted with consummate appreciation for the challenges this partnership overcame – culture, economics, race, gender – to step onto the global stage and effect needed social change.

Early in their date, Michelle and Barack debate the merits and downsides of working in a corporate law firm when there is so much need outside the business world for legal minds to provide community leadership: “There’s no contribution at our level. Just the illusion of contribution.” It is this existential riddle that drives both Hell or High Water and Southside with You, and, whether you are two down-on-your-luck siblings weighing a life of crime just to pay your mortgage, two lawmen putting in a brutal day’s work and hoping you emerge unscathed, the future First Couple of the United States mapping out a future together, or just some lowly audience member chomping popcorn in the movie theatre, that resonates.

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[Image Source: Wikipedia]

[Image Source: Wikipedia]

Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

Once more with feeling (#LMA16): Perspectives from In-House Legal Marketers on Social/Digital Media

img_0348If you missed this week’s Social and Digital Media SIG webinar recapping our takeaways from #LMA16, the recording is now posted here: http://event.on24.com/wcc/r/1174915/B5ECC687155CBA1462A3D24E464C0D94. (You have to “register” to watch.)

Thanks to the incomparable Megan McKeon for joining me on this presentation! And listen for shout outs to Nancy Leyes Myrland, Lindsay Griffiths, Tasneem K. Goodman, Jabez LeBret, Jonathan Fitzgarrald, Heather Morse-Geller, Melissa Thomas, Amber Bollman, Bree Harms, Jim Jarrell, Gina Rubel, and more …

“As the influence of social and digital media continues to evolve and cross-over into all aspects of marketing the legal profession, legal marketers continue to become less generalized, and more focused on specific areas of expertise. These varying focuses and roles, result in differing approaches to the social and digital media in our profession. In other words, what a business development professional finds valuable about a digital media presentation, may differ from that of a marketing technologist. As such, the Legal Marketing Association Social Media SIG invites you to attend our LMA Annual Conference Recap Webinar involving in-house legal marketers from various areas of our profession to discuss their favorite digital and social media programs from this year’s conference. Discussion topics include key takeaways from our favorite sessions, general discussion of the hot topics you may have missed, and the impact of the 2016 LMA Annual Conference programming on our behavior as legal marketers.”

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LMA 16Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). 

In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan.  

My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

The Digital Handshake #LMA16: ROI (Measuring So You Can Better Manage) … and PechaKucha!

pecha(Originally written for and posted on Legal Marketing Association Social and Digital Media Special Interest Group blog. This piece is summarizing two sessions I attended at the 2016 annual conference in Austin, Texas.)

 

In her blog entry “Referrals and First Impressions: How Technology Has Changed Them” (summarizing a recent Legal Coffee Break podcast by GNGF founders Mark Homer and Jabez LeBret), Lindsay Griffiths, Director of Global Relationship Management at International Lawyers Network, writes …

When a prospective client Googles you, and the only thing that comes up is a bio that is outdated, with a few lines about your practice, the year you graduated law school and passed the bar, it won’t matter if you are the smartest and most talented lawyer in the world. The firm’s website and your social media profiles are designed to support the word of mouth referral and their decision to hire you, to provide a level of comfort that we all seek when looking online for information these days – that feeling of “oh yes, I’m making the right decision in trusting this person with my business.”

 

What Lindsay has captured here is a key theme that resonated repeatedly for me during the recent Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference (LMA16) in Austin, Texas. The notions that digital and social media somehow exist in a vacuum and are to be discussed as some glorious abstraction or, worse, funky sideline experiment are defunct (not that they ever had any validity to start). We don’t have a special task force for “telephone usage” or “the art of cocktail conversation” (though, in fact, those are not terrible ideas, come to think of it). Social/digital presence is now essential to the business development and marketing conversation, from prospect research through lead generation, from ongoing client engagement to every facet of brand management. Let’s face it. Our digital footprint is often the first thing anyone sees about us these days.

That said, this blog entry, which started life as an assignment to summarize one social media-leaning presentation at LMA16 is going to be a mash-up of takeaways from two utterly unrelated sessions, sessions which nonetheless showed the essential value of digital and social as a matter of accepted course in the world of legal marketing.

Jonathan Fitzgarrald, Equinox Partners, presented “ROI: Measuring So You Can Better Manage,” an effervescent boot camp on law firm managing up and leaning in and breaking out. In the surest sense of “getting more flies with honey,” Fitzgarrald returned frequently to the truism that what you can’t measure doesn’t matter – and more to the point, if you don’t know what matters to your clients, no measurement in the world will help you. And if you are still encountering difficulty selling the importance of digital client engagement to law firm leadership, follow this recipe …

  • Ask your attorneys about their priorities. Don’t assume.
  • Are you mining social media to understand what your clients are seeking and how they are communicating? What are your competitors saying and to whom?
  • Form an unofficial board of advocates in your firm – mix of attorneys & other colleagues.
  • With firm growth priorities in mind, how can social/digital help? What are stakeholder concerns/fears?
  • Socialize unfamiliar concepts using data, outcomes, competitor examples, non-legal examples. Plant the seed, and let others champion the idea. Doesn’t matter who gets “credit,” if it benefits the firm.
  • Measure your social media efforts – quantitatively and anecdotally. Proactively circulate internal monthly measures/outcomes: reach/impressions, shares/likes, media mentions.
  • Actively demonstrate your value and that of social/digital.
  • Help linear folks see in 3D.

 

As social media has evolved from being a standalone topic to a vital communications/ engagement tool, discussions of use, value, measurement were woven throughout many LMA16 presentations across varied topics. Nowhere was that truer than in Tas Gooman and Jabez LeBret’s “Your Honor Awards Meet PechaKucha,” with presentations by Jann E. Dudley of Archer Norris; Daryl Drabinsky of DLA Piper; Sarah Fougere, of Oblon, McClelland, Maier, & Neustadt; Morgan Hall from McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland; and Andrea (Crews) Maciejewski from Levenfeld Pearlstein.

In fact the very presentation-style of the session reflected how social media has impacted our speaking styles and absorption of information. What is PechaKucha you ask? It’s a timed presentation  – six minutes and your slides keep moving whether you are ready or not – requiring the speakers (in this case the 2016 Your Honor recipients)  to focus on the key narrative points: what they did, how they did it, and what results they achieved.

Here’s the thing. Nearly every one discussed how social media/digital was essential to their strategy: targeting messages by audience segment, creating agility and ability to customize what is viewed/received, and offering bigger impact for lower costs. Some of the most memorable tips …

  • Microsites (as opposed to traditional web bios) for attorneys. One size does NOT fit all. For more digitally/socially active subjects, a microsite rewards by including social links, blog posts, etc.
  • In designing “book of content” style sites/microsites, send out private links for measurement and create customized marquees for respective audience interest.
  • Use images rather than text (which I’m failing at presently), and find ways to present information as stories, as narrative, not as cascades of bragging points.
  • Use social/digital to make your campaigns “come to life” with real voices – people want to talk to people, not entities.
  • What issues are trending on social media (e.g. marriage equality), and does that present a growth opportunity? Move fast, and engage … but “non-lawyer-ly.”
  • Hire a local up-and-coming fashion photographer to differentiate photos used in social.
  • Feature profiles, news in-line with business you hope to attract.
  • Explore platforms that allow you to provide easy-to-share content to attorneys, but avoid dreaded “auto-posting” appearance.

Based on these various ideas ping ponging around my brain (thanks, LMA16!), here are the challenges I see going forward …

  • Think less about social media in a “tactical bubble” and more as the accepted (and at times primary means) of strategically communicating. Why is there this “fire wall” around social/digital?
  • Build social/digital more prominently into reporting mechanisms. Where are our clients learning about us? What are they saying and where?
  • Think visually, communicate concisely, speak personally. There is a necessary precision to legal communications; however, our digital/social presence is competing against millions of messages (legal and non-legal) every day. How can we stand out, while walking that fine line of credibility and promotion?

And remember that the first handshake your attorney may have with a potential client is more likely than ever to occur in cyberspace.

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Roy Sexton is Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Trott Law, P.C., a Michigan-based real estate law firm serving the mortgage industry (www.TrottLaw.com). A graduate of Wabash College, he holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and an MA in theatre from the Ohio State University. He has nearly 20 years of experience in strategic planning, business development, marketing and communications, having worked previously at Deloitte Consulting and Oakwood Healthcare.

He is a published author with two books of arts criticism Reel Roy Reviews, compiled from his blog of the same name (www.ReelRoyReviews.com).  He is an at-large member of LMA’s Midwest Board, serves on the state Board of Governors of the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association, and is a co-founder and board member of Ann Arbor’s Penny Seats Theatre Company. He is active in the Social & Digital Media SIG and is on the advisory board for Strategies. You can reach him by emailing rsexton@trottlaw.com or via the following social media channels:

  • Twitter: @roysexton
  • LinkedIn: /royesexton
  • Facebook: /roy.sexton

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LMA 16Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). 

In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan.  

My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

#LMA16 – Keeping Austin Weird … and Making Legal Marketing GREAT (Again).

LMA 16 seriousI just returned from Austin, Texas where the annual Legal Marketing Conference was held. An amazing and eclectic city hosted an even more amazing and eclectic bunch of smart cookies, who shared their knowledge and insight freely, fiercely, graciously, profoundly.

If one could bottle the wit and wisdom in that hotel over the past three days, we could solve every world crisis, laughing and smiling every step of the way.

Yours truly was included in a number of session summaries posted by LexBlog (www.lxbn.com) throughout the event. You can check them out here …

Above the Law covered the conference here, and wonderful colleague Heather Morse offered her ode to LMA here. Check out these conference tips from talented legal PR expert (and attorney herself) Gina Rubel. You can also sign up for our LMA Social Media Special Interest Group wrap-up webinar here.

img_0348

Yes, there was no end of fun to be had as well, which you might detect from these photos (cheeky hats courtesy of Jonathan Fitzgarrald) …

LMA 16 3

(And, I promise … I’ll get back to movies soon.)

 LMA 16 2

LMA 16LMA 16 4

Join us Wednesday, April 20 for the Social Media SIG’s recap of the Annual Conference! (Registration Link)

As the influence of social and digital media continues to evolve and cross-over into all aspects of marketing the legal profession, legal marketers continue to become less generalized, and more focused on specific areas of expertise. These varying focuses and roles, result in differing approaches to the social and digital media in our profession. In other words, what a business development professional finds valuable about a digital media presentation, may differ from that of a marketing technologist. As such, the Legal Marketing Association Social Media SIG invites you to attend our LMA Annual Conference Recap Webinar involving in-house legal marketers from various areas of our profession to discuss their favorite digital and social media programs from this year’s conference. Discussion topics include key takeaways from our favorite sessions, general discussion of the hot topics you may have missed, and the impact of the 2016 LMA Annual Conference programming on our behavior as legal marketers.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Discuss the main takeaways from a handful of social and digital media breakouts from the perspective of three types of in-house marketers
  • Compare and contrast which of these presentations resonated with and provided value to our panel of in-house marketers
  • Assess how the 2016 LMA Annual Conference will affect future behavior for our panel looking to implement what they learned practically within their firms

Featured Speakers:

  • Megan McKeon, Senior Business Development Manager, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
  • Roy Sexton, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Trott Law, P.C.
  • Jacqueline Madarang, Marketing Technology Manager, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
  • Jessica Aries (moderator), Business Development Manager, Andrews Kurth LLP

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 IMG_4792Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan.  My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

 

#LMA16Selfie – wonderful people doing silly things and posting the photographic evidence (VIDEO)

SelfieHave you posted your ‪#‎LMA16Selfie yet? These people have!

Thanks to Nancy Leyes Myrland for this great kick-off video! #LMA16Selfie, ‪#‎LMA16, ‪#‎LMAMKT – post your photo to be included in the next edition!

For the second year, in advance of the Legal Marketing Association’s national conference, a mad selfie campaign has been launched whereby folks in legal marketing (and their buddies) do silly things and post the photographic evidence, using the hashtag #LMA16Selfie.

Here are the results to date …

Midwest BoardAll these fabulous faces on display! Maureen Fechter Farr, Megan McKeon, Sydney Iglitzen, Joni Radaszewski, Kate Harry, Suzanne Donnels, Jacqueline Madarang, Stefanie Knapp, Rachel Green, John Mola, Easter Roynny, Andrew Rundall, Kyle Lawson, Jessica Aries, Andrew Laver, Jim Jarrell, Melissa Thomas, Sheila McShane, Cynthia Voth, Elonide Caldwell Semmes, Robin Oliver, Taryn Dreyer Elliott, Peter Moyer, and (pictures IN pictures) Gail Porter Lamarche, Laura Toledo, Lindsay Griffiths, Lance Godard, Gina Furia Rubel, Heather Morse-Geller, Josh Toledo, Susie and Don Sexton, Ratana Therakulsathit … and don’t forget Lucy!!

Roynny____________________________

Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital). In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by BookboundCommon Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. 

My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

Romanticized beyond all reason: Bonnie and Clyde, A New Musical at Dexter, Michigan’s Encore Theatre

Bonnie and Clyde

Mahalia Greenway and Adam Woolsey as Bonnie and Clyde [Photos by the author – don’t try this yourself. The Encore doesn’t like photography]

Bonnie and Clyde’s bank-robbing crime spree across the American South-land is one of those bits of folklore that has been romanticized beyond all reason.

Maybe it’s Warren Beatty’s fault, aided and abetted as he was by Faye Dunaway with all those chic tams she wore – in the iconic 1967 film.

Regardless, people return to this timeworn tale time and again as the closest thing we have to our own Romeo and Juliet mythology.

The fantasy is as misplaced as could be as these two bandits were cold-blooded killers who saw bank robbery as a quick means to an easy buck,

Against the backdrop of the Depression-era dust bowl, it’s an easy leap to paint these two self-absorbed hooligans as Robin Hood and Marian for the Tea Partying crowd.

Bonnie and Clyde 3

Peter Crist and Elizabeth Jaffe as Buck and Blanche Barrow [Ensemble members Brendan Kelly and Andrew James Buckshaw in the background]

It’s interesting, then, in this era of gun romance and big gubmint fears that Frank Wildhorn chose to musicalize the Bonnie and Clyde legend – no end of “Revolution in ‘Murica” themes to plumb in the source material.

The Broadway production of Wildhorn’s Bonnie and Clyde starred puckish Newsies-lad Jeremy Jordan alongside Laura Osnes. The show came and went, as all Wildhorn productions that don’t star ex-wife Linda Eder always seem to do (seriously, the dude can’t write a memorable melody to save his soul). However, the show has taken on a second life in the semi-pro circuit as regional theatre embraces the tuner’s timely allegory (and let’s be honest … small cast).

I spent this chilly October night at Dexter, Michigan’s exceptional Encore Theatre, thoroughly enjoying their inventive and cheeky take on the show. Directed by Bonnie and Clyde alum Ron Baumanis with a clear eye toward efficiency, economy, and zip, Encore’s production is a pleasure.

Ensemble

Ensemble

Populated with an ensemble cast long on talent and wit, this production hums along at a fine clip, compensating nicely for Ivan Menchell’s under-cooked book (lyrics are by Don Black) which fails to give us much, if any detail, on why Bonnie and Clyde are in love: be that in love with each other; with gun play; with robbing banks; or with snazzy hats, claw-foot bathtubs, and jangling ukuleles.

Encore’s production team does a brilliant job utilizing their compressed industrial space to accommodate a full orchestra (somewhere hidden from view) and a Rube Goldberg set (by Daniel C. Walker) built of ramps, doors, cages, and stairs, beautifully representing a host of locations across Depression-era Texas.

There is smart use of rear-projections as well, highlighting location changes and grounding the production in historical images of the titular anti-heroes and their family and friends. It is a clever touch, visually filling in the script’s gaps and providing an impactful and visceral connection to these desperate lives.

Leads Adam Woolsey (Clyde) and Mahalia Greenway (Bonnie) are all CW-era sparkle as the mobster sweethearts, creating a series of exquisite stage pictures of these exquisite criminals. The script doesn’t give them much in terms of character development (and Wildhorn’s tunes force every cast member into the nether reaches of head voice). Regardless, Woolsey and Greenway offer a compelling and at times compassionate overview of kindred spirits whose short-sighted distortion of the Horatio Alger myth, calcified by American preoccupation with fame at all costs, leads them down the darkest paths imaginable.

Bonnie and Clyde 4I got a big kick from Peter Crist and Elizabeth Jaffe as the script’s second bananas Buck Barrow (Clyde’s brother) and wife Blanche. This pair brings the smolder and the comic relief. (Who knew those two thematic elements could co-exist so darn nicely?) Crist and Jaffe are electric in every scene, and Jaffe is a postmodern Eve Arden, crackerjack with a line and not wasting a moment on stage. Delightful to watch.

The show runs through October 25 and is well worth catching to see a game cast of talented local performers dance through this fractured tale of the American Dream. Showtimes and ticket information can be found at http://www.theencoretheatre.org/now-playing/

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Image by Lee Gaddis of Gaddis Gaming

Drawing of yours truly as a superhero by Lee Gaddis of Gaddis Gaming

Reel Roy Reviews is now TWO books! You can purchase your copies by clicking here (print and digital)In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the first book is currently is being carried by Bookbound, Common Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

Countdown: Her

From my wonderful publisher Open Books

My childhood home

My childhood home

The countdown continues! 6 days remain until the official launch of ReelRoyReviews, a book of film, music, and theatre reviews, by Roy Sexton!

Thanks to Kat Kelly-Heinzelman (read her blog here) for her friendship and support! She writes, “Check out my new profile picture; I think you will like it, Roy. LOL! Hope you’re having a good day … I love it [Reel Roy Reviews]. Have been reading since I got it. Good so far!”

Please note that, in addition to online ordering, the book currently is being carried by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan and by Memory Lane Gift Shop in Columbia City, Indiana. Memory Lane also has copies of Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series.

Kat Kelly-Heinzelman

Kat Kelly-Heinzelman

Here’s a snippet from Roy’s review of HER: “Phoenix works those limpid blue eyes of his, falling head over heels for a sweet-and-saucy, ever-evolving artificially intelligent ‘operating system’ (voiced by Scarlett Johansson, turning in some of the better work of her career).”

Learn more about REEL ROY REVIEWS, VOL 1: KEEPIN’ IT REAL by Roy Sexton at http://www.open-bks.com/library/moderns/reel-roy-reviews/about-book.html. Book can also be ordered at Amazon here.