I hit the Trifecta! Win… Place… and on with the Show!
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” is a delicious musical comedy that opened in October 2013 to a steady stream of excellent reviews. This is that rare, perfect combination and coordination of the big three – music, lyrics and book. Quadruple this with some remarkable performances – notably one particularly outstanding performance – and you have a heck of a smart, sassy show. Who knew murder could be so jolly?
This is a piece that should stay open not only because of its worthy, fine critiques, but because the word of mouth from those in the know – the ultimate people’s Tony award and the one that deservedly sells tickets – is so exceedingly strong. You just can’t beat a personal recommendation nor a strong buzz from those you trust. Truly the best form of advertising. Once that distinctly important melody starts you humming, and word starts catching on…well, you simply have to see for yourself and find out why all the fuss. I would never steer you wrong…you’ll be glad you listened!
Yes, of course, it’s fun to see bona fide movie stars on stage – up close, and personal – yet the “Great White Way” is way more then marquee names. Theater is still the ultimate collaborative art form, it takes more then famous names to make it a worthy night out, and justify ticket costs. Nothing worse then a big name in a bad show … indeed. ALL the elements must align. Don’t forget to see the forest thru the trees.
This scrumptious show is set in proper Edwardian England, and based on the classic British film “Kind Hearts and Coronets” starring the late, great Alec Guinness. This is witty, iconic, dry British humor- albeit black comedy – at its zenith. It involves a poor young man, Monty Navarro (exceedingly well portrayed and sung by Bryce Pinkham) who discovers as he comes of age that he is indeed of noble blood, to the manor born, and ninth in line to the title of “Earl of Highhurst” and the accompanying ancestral estate of the rich D’Ysquith family.
But therein lies the rub …odds are quite small that those way ahead of him in the line of succession will pass away on a timely basis, and eventual leave Monty as Lord of the D’Ysquith Manor while he’s young enough to reap the rewards of such an estate and esteemed title. Mmmm… stranger things have happened! You get the picture. And so a dishy delightful romp unfolds as Monty plots his wily route to the D’Ysquith throne.
Naturally there are some juicy love interests and colorful, flavor filled characters to help him along the way or add to the obvious obstacles along this thorny road to Highhurst. Royal blood will be shed, but you will be too happily laughing to mourn anyone! This is not necessarily murder most foul. But of course, the ultimate question…can he actually ascend this throne and stay there?
The zinger here is that the great stage actor (and Tony winner for “I Am My Own Wife”) Jefferson Mays, takes his cue from the film version and amazingly plays all eight parts – including the female roles – involving the D’Ysquith family. This is a true tour de force for Mays, and he is pure theatrical magic. How he steps off/on stage and perfectly inhabits another character – vocally, dramatically, with great comedic flare and in record curtain time – stuns the audience. Sometimes he is totally unrecognizable, such a chameleon! But check the casting list – it’s him all right! His performance alone is worth your ticket price. You’ll be hard pressed to decide which part you like him in best, but I am personally partial to his spins on the scooter – hysterical!
However, the rest of the ensemble cast is also remarkable, and I cite the two female leads, Lisa O’Hare as Sibella and Lauren Worsham as Phoebe for their glowing, gorgeous vocals and dramatic presence. Of course, the sets and costumes are of a rich, luxurious quality and add another level of delight to this already quality production.
I urge you to discover on your own this hilarious guide to love and murder…but I’ll give you all a “heads up” before you take your seat…thoroughly read your Playbill and listen carefully to the opening number.
Don’t say you weren’t warned!
WHAT: A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder WHERE: The Walter Kerr Theater 219 West 48th Street New York, New York
By: Joanne Theodorou