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JUST SOUTH OF GIHON - The First Full Production's video poster

A NEW MUSICAL - A fictional retelling of the lives of Bonnie & Clyde as an allegory for the Book of Genesis. Read more

Nashville, TN Theater
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This project was successfully funded on February 6, 2012.

A NEW MUSICAL - A fictional retelling of the lives of Bonnie & Clyde as an allegory for the Book of Genesis.

Nashville, TN Theater
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Chris Rayis
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Chris Rayis

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IN JUNE OF 2009, Ami Shibasaki and I began working on a new musical. We had both become recently interested in musical theatre writing and I had begun working on a show concept based on the saga of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, thieves and serial killers who lived in 1930s Texas. Ami liked the idea, and after many synopses, we reached an original story: a fictional account of Bonnie and Clyde, retold using historical names assigned to characters we created. When searching for a title, we noticed that our story followed an odd parallel with the first few chapters of Genesis, and thus was born JUST SOUTH OF GIHON (a reference to one of the rivers bordering Eden).


Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are courting when Bonnie comes to Clyde's prison cell and sneaks him a bag of his "favorite cookies," allowing him to unlock his bars and run away with her. Outside in the town, shopkeepers and wealthy families discuss a plan to finish off Bonnie and Clyde, while farmers and the impoverished glorify the couple as heroes and symbols of their struggle.

In the home of Deputy Frank Hamer, the policeman's wife and son are once again forced to eat dinner by themselves after Hamer's typical late night at the station, a habit despised by Mrs. Hamer. As the Hamers argue through the night, Bonnie and Clyde continue to further their relationship through flirtation in the local park. Clyde suggests that he and Bonnie attend the local barn dance, and the couple walks into the Dallas Jamboree dance competition. The couple comes in second, losing their chance at the prize money - a disappointment that inspires a robbery at the local Wells Fargo.

After they are caught in the act by Frank Hamer, Bonnie and Clyde are taken to the station for questioning. All three parties seem locked in their ways before Clyde mentions something mysterious about Frank's past, causing the deputy to expel the couple from his office. When they return to Clyde's apartment, Bonnie is high on the thrill of crime and escape, but Clyde warns her of the danger she faces as his partner in crime. Bonnie reminds Clyde that he is the escape she has always longed for, and the couple proceeds to become partners in more than just crime.

A week later, the Dallas Jamboree is back in full swing. Bonnie and Clyde enter the dance and meet two sheriffs joking about their inability to find a good woman. When Clyde leaves to get Bonnie a drink, flirtation ensues, and Clyde returns to a scene not quite pleasing to his eye. After a few hard words, an attempt by the sheriff to flee the scene, and a shot from Clyde's revolver, a man lays dead on the floor. Bonnie and Clyde are no longer the carefree couple they once were.

While eating dinner at home some time later, Frank Hamer is interrupted by two sheriffs who claim to have found Bonnie and Clyde's hideout. Hamer searches the apartment and discovers Bonnie's diary. As he reads, he discovers the story of Bonnie's accidental murder of her mother. He pockets the diary and leaves the apartment with his men.

Bonnie and Clyde return to a scene of chaos at their hideout, triggering Bonnie's pent-up rage at Clyde's lackadaisical approach to their life of crime and, more importantly, to her. Bonnie runs away to the local park. Simultaneously, Helen Hamer reprimands her husband for the final time before taking her son and leaving the house. Clyde finds Bonnie in the park, where they are both discovered by Frank Hamer and taken back to the station.

At the second questioning, Clyde revolts, grabbing a gun and forcing Frank to the floor while he and Bonnie escape. As they prepare to evacuate their apartment, Clyde tells Bonnie the story behind his drive to kill and defy the police. The story overlaps with the past of Frank Hamer, transitioning into his empty house with a single farewell note on the table.

Hamer condemns Bonnie and Clyde for destroying his life and family, but he soon realizes that he may have been the instigator of the entire course of events. Having read through Bonnie's diary, he makes a final entry: a plea for the couple's forgiveness and a reminder that they can still turn their lives around. He packs up the diary, gets in his car, and leaves to deliver his message to the elusive couple...


JUST SOUTH OF GIHON has received many partial performances at Belmont University over the years - individual song performances, orchestrated segments, and even a staged reading - but this is the first full production with sound, lights, costume, set, contracted actors, the whole shebang.

Every professional theatrical production is made possible by producers: the people who finance the show, give creative suggestions, and then accept the Tony when the show wins Best Musical. THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO BE A THEATRICAL PRODUCER!!! (Cue Mel Brooks score)

By donating to this project, you help us hire great costume, lighting, sound, and set designers; cast fully contracted, top-notch actors; and ensure that this show is seen by new audiences hungry for good musicals by the composers and librettists of the future.


To thank you for your donation, we would like to reward you with gifts EXCLUSIVE to this production. NOWHERE ELSE will you find the great offers to your RIGHT. From free tickets to the Original Cast Recording to handwritten scores - even a character named after you and/or your name ABOVE the title! - we offer something for everyone at every pledge level.

Ami and I so appreciate your donation - you will be a part of the legacy of this show, and we hope to take this production as far as possible.

Grace and peace,

Chris Rayis


Bonnie Parker................................JORDAN GONZALEZ

Clyde Barrow.................................NATHAN McHENRY

Frank Hamer..................................JEFFERSON CARSON

Helen Hamer..................................LAUREN WRIGHT

Prisoner 1/Officer 1/Frank U.S.........NICK HURM

Prisoner 2/Officer 2/Clyde U.S.........RYAN BRENNAN

Officer 3/Farmer.............................JOSIAH MILLER

Officer 4/Farmer.............................ANDREW WIEMANN

James Hamer.................................MICHAEL KARL

Townswoman 1...............................SUZANNA CHAMPION

Townswoman 2...............................ALI VALENTINE

Townswoman 3/Bonnie U.S.............CLAIRE KAPUSTKA

Townswoman 4/Helen U.S...............JENNA BURNS

Townswoman 5/Dance Captain.........MaKENZIE FLY


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  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    5 backers

    PATRON - One ticket to a performance of "Just South of Gihon" (February 3-5, 2012 at Belmont University in Nashville, TN) & Name listed in program

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  • You selected
    Pledge $30 or more

    10 backers

    FRIEND - Previous gifts & One more ticket to "Gihon" production (2 total) & "Gihon" Original Cast Recording

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    Pledge $50 or more

    4 backers

    BEST FRIEND - ALL previous gifts (2 Tickets/CD/Name in program) & Two more tickets to "Gihon" production (4 total) & Program signed by Chris Rayis & Sheet music to one "Gihon" song of your choice

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    Pledge $100 or more

    2 backers

    GIHONITE - ALL previous gifts (4 Tickets/CD/Name in program/Signed program/1 Sheet music) & Sheet music to two additional "Gihon" songs of your choice (3 total) & Program signed by entire cast & DVD Copy of Arthur Penn's 1967 film "Bonnie and Clyde" (One of the main source materials for the musical)

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    Pledge $250 or more

    3 backers

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER - ALL previous gifts (4 Tickets/CD/Name in program/Signed program/3 Sheet music selections/Cast signed program/DVD) & Complete "Gihon" sheet music vocal selections (instead of previous sheet music gift) & Character named after you in the current "Gihon" production & Copy of Jeff Guinn's book "Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde" (One of the main source materials for the musical)

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    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer

    PRODUCER (Tony-Holder) - ALL previous gifts (4 Tickets/CD/Name in program/Signed program/Cast signed program/DVD/Vocal Selections/Character naming/Book) & Up to four more tickets to "Gihon" production (8 total) & Handwritten line of "Gihon" score signed by Chris Rayis & Name listed above the title on all displays & "Gihon" script autographed by the cast & Two additional cast recording copies (3 total)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more

    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    SAINT CHRISTOPHER - ALL previous gifts (8 Tickets/3 CDs/Name in program/Signed program/Cast signed program/DVD/Vocal Selections/Character naming/Book/Handwritten score/Name above title/Autographed script) & One commission for a piece of music by Chris Rayis & Handwritten portion of libretto signed by Ami Shibasaki & Up to 50 tickets to "Gihon" production

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Funding period

- (53 days)