A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder Review - The Audiences are still raving

  

I actually saw two, yes two, serial killer Broadway comedies in the same week. If you count 39 Steps, which was actually just a one-murder comedy, it totals three!

But, alas, the comedy king is A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love & Murder, the winner of the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical.  Consider this a re-review of the play that’s been getting audiences on their feet for the past two years.  There is a good reason for that.  This play is a riot. 

 

Jefferson Mays as Lord Adalbert in a scene from "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" at the Walter Kerr Theater. Photo credit: Joan Marcus

 

I didn’t know what this play was about, but everyone has been talking about it.  Therefore, being a decent theater reviewer, I gave it a shot.

 

While the source material credited for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is Israel Rank, an Edwardian novel by Roy Horniman published in 1907, the show’s key inspiration lies in the film adapted from that book, Kind Hearts and Coronets.  The great 1949 Ealing Studios black comedy cast Alec Guinness as eight English aristocrats standing in the way of the commoner’s noble birthright.

 

 

Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, AWalter Kerr TheatreJefferson MaysLisa O'HareBryce PinkhamLauren WorshamEddie KorbichJoanna GlushakDon StephensonJeff Kready Jane CarrPamela BobMark LedbetterJennifer SmithPrice WaldmanCatherine WalkerProduction Credits:Darko Tresnjak (Direction)Peggy Hickey (Choreography)Alexander Dodge (Scenic Design)Linda Cho (Costume Design)Philip S. Rosenberg (Lighting Design)Dan Moses Schreier (Sound Design)Aaron Rhyne (Projections Design)Paul Staroba (Musical Direction)Jonathan Tunick (Orchestrations)Dianne Adams McDowell (Vocal Arrangements)Other Credits:Lyrics by: Robert L. Freedman and Steven LutvakMusic by: Steven LutvakBook by: Robert L. Freedman

 

 

Monte Navarro (Bryce Pinkham)is the black sheep of the D’Ysquith Family.  He finds out he is eight heirs away from the Throne and really doesn’t want to wait too long to get there.  The eight, yes, all eight heirs to the Throne are normally  played by Tony Winner Jefferson Mays, but at this performance was spectacularly played by his understudy, Greg Jackson.  Mr. Mays, as I was told, has been out for the past month.  I heard Mr. Mays was wonderful, but I can’t even imagine how much better and crazier he can be than Mr. Jackson.

Mr. Jackson changes his clothes, hair, teeth, voice and character with such speed you truly have to remind yourself he IS one person playing eight people!

 

 

 

 

Scarlett Strallen as Sibella Hallward, Jeff Kready as Monty Navarro and Catherine Walker as Phoebe D'Ysquith in a scene from "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" at the Walter Kerr Theater - Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

 

Poor Monte, when he finds out that there are 8 heirs before him, he realizes that his chances to get to the top are next to nothing.  The only way he can get to the Throne is if all 8 heirs die.  What are the chances of THAT?  Well, chances are pretty good if they all die ‘suspiciously.’  And, over a short period of time.  And the chances of success increase profoundly if they are all killed.  It’s not the killings, my friends; it is the way they are eliminated that is not only original but so funny and completely over-the-top.

 

Monte becomes my favorite deadly sociopath while keeping me hysterical, (laughing, that is).  We are not talking pointing a gun or anything as simple as that.  We’re talking freezing water, bee stings, windy balconies, poisonous flowers, and other ‘accidental’ deaths.  It’s hard to hate Monte.  He looks so much like Jude Law and he is so physically talented, you just want to introduce him to your mother.  But, be careful, if you love your mother you just might want to keep him away.

 

Monte isn’t the only ‘character’ in the show.  His kinda, sorta, girlfriend, Sabella Hallward (Scarlett Strallen), uses her feminine wiles to keep Monte on his toes and in love with her, even though she marries someone else for money, but is soon quite bored.   Phoebe (Catherine Walker) also loves Monte and what a tough situation it makes.  Both of these talented actresses play their parts to perfection as they literally push each other away to capture Monte’s attention and his heart.    

 

 

The music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman are original, upbeat, and humorous and fully capture the essence of this production. 

I’d be remiss not to mention the scenery, or should I say sceneries.  They were beautifully crafted, but, how did they ever have a separate scene for each murder?  These backdrops were coming and going so quickly, you forget you are in a theater with limited space and, more importantly, limited time. 

Kuddos to Alexander Dodge for the originality and beauty of all the stage designs and a generous nod to Linda Cho for her perfect period themed gowns and all the clothing worn by the actors.  We can never forget those behind-the-scene pros that have the visual and conceptual genius to put it all together.

 

I know you may have heard the buzz around town that ‘you should see this show’ for the past 2 years.  The buzz is right and you must mosey on down to the Walter Kerr Theater and give yourself and those you love a real treat.  With the holidays around the corner and the fall season at our heels, it is the perfect time to go see this show. 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This wonderful show is going beginning its national tour beginning September 25th. The tour includes stops in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Los Angeles, and other markets to be announced.  Therefore, if you are not in NYC and live in or around these other cities, you now have the opportunity to see this 2014 Tony Award Winning Show!

NOTE:  To mark the occasion of Jefferson Mays’ 6,000th death in the Tony Award® winning Best Musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder the production held a funeral procession down West 48th Street, as cast members and fans, all dressed in mourning attire, followed Mr. Mays, laying in state inside a glass-sided horse-drawn hearse, to the Walter Kerr Theatre stage door.

Jefferson Mays, playing eight members of the doomed D'Ysquith clan, is knocked off eight times in each performance, or sixty-four times each week. Next week, on Thursday, October 22, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder will enter its third year on Broadway.

 

A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love & Murder is now playing at the Walter Kerr Theater, 218 West 48th Street, New York City,  This show will end it's Broadway run January 17th.   Go see it before it dies and awakens in another city.

For more information and tickets go to:  A Gentlemansguidebroadway website

 

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