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On the Night Claybourne Elder & Sarah Brightman Changed My Life



This, my friends, is why the internet exists. To bring you four minutes and twenty-three seconds of crazypants perfection, complete with lycra, bad lighting, and 600 smoke machines. And Sarah Brightman singing about how a Starship Trooper commandeered her heart and probably her lady parts too. You cannot unsee this, and frankly, I don’t know why you’d ever want to.

Last night, sometime around midnight Lucky and I ended up huddled over a table in a bar with the cast of Bonnie & Clyde, watching this video on my phone. My life is forever changed, and I have Claybourne Elder to thank.

Because a conversation that started with Blanche Barrow, and segued into the intricacies of dying a bloody death on stage, somehow ended up here. With this video. And we weren’t even drunk!

Below, the highlights of one seriously memorable night:

  • So there was a Q&A with several members of the cast and creative team of Bonnie & Clyde. And it was wonderful, but the best part came after the formal Q&A, when the lovely Melissa Van Der Schyff and Claybourne Elder (Blanche and Buck Barrow, respectively) landed at our table for a chat.

  • Our friend Kevin Daly, aka Theatre Aficionado at Large, made the amazing observation that though Melissa’s take on Blanche Barrow was quite different from Estelle Parson’s take on Blanche in the film, they both achieved something very similar—a beautifully realized performance that was a total highlight for audiences. Here’s to hoping Melissa can snag herself a Tony with the role, just like Parsons scored an Academy Award.

  • Melissa and Claybourne told us about their awesome and hilarious and strangely sweet bloodying and de-bloodying rituals for Buck’s gory death scene, and the subsequent curtain call in which they hit the stage looking fresh as daisies. Apparently it’s such a harried process that it took Melissa weeks to even realize that Claybourne is essentially feeling her up as he rubs fake blood all over her chest with his hands every night.

  • As Claybourne is de-gore-ifying himself, several dressers pitch in and help, one of whom holds a jar fondly referred to as “Bits o’ Buck.” Claybourne scrapes the pieces of fake brain matter that are all over his hands into that pre-curtain call. He’s saving them for a rainy day. Or the BCEFA Flea Market. Or something.

  • I’m just going to repeat this for emphasis: “Bits o’ Buck” y’all. That is AMAZING.

  • The conversation then meandered to Michael Crawford and The Phantom of the Christmas Album, and You Tube videos like this one. Claybourne and Melissa both did awesome impressions of Mr. Crawford singing a variety of songs you never wanted to hear the Phantom sing.

  • That’s when we fell down the YouTube rabbit hole right there at our table and thanks to Claybourne Elder, I will never see the world the same way again. I’m just sorry we can’t share video of Claybourne’s impromptu performance of Sarah’s choreography (though I’m guessing Mr. Elder is not). I suppose the music video and your imagination will just have to suffice. So, on behalf of Mr. Elder and The Craptacular—you are welcome, America.

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