A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is a madcap musical comedy that hits on all cylinders. With book and lyrics by Robert L Friedman and music and lyrics by Stephen Lutvak Gentlemen’s Guide is the closest thing to perfection I have seen this year. Based on a 1907 novel “The Autobiography of a Criminal” by Roy Horseman Gentleman's Guide tells the story of one man’s unlikely and highly murderous climb to the rank of Earl.
After the death of his mother Monty Navarro discovers that she was disowned buy one of the wealthiest families in early 1900s England. Mother Navarro made the outrageous decision to marry for love over money. This decision resulted in her being disowned, disavowed and completely disassociated from the ridiculously rich D’Ysquith family.
Upon this discovery Monty armed with documentation including his birth certificate reached out to the family assuming he would be immediately welcomed. This assumption proved to be incorrect.
Now the only thing Monte knew for sure is that he was ninth in line to become Earl but not if he couldn't find acceptance into the family. While not his initial goal the accidental death of the eighth in line while Monty was present begins him down the road of claiming the title. One by one family members face their demise always under hysterical circumstances.
Nominated for 10 Tony awards in 2014 a Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder walked away with four statues including Best Musical. The tongue-in-cheek presentation of the musical Will leave you laughing and delighted throughout. With a solid score there are a couple of standouts that heighten the hilarity of the scene in which they Play. Specifically "I don't understand the poor" and "It's better with the man" will leave you a little sore from the laughter they incite.
This show uses video in the most brilliant way it incorporates video into the show to offer interesting special-effects and does so in a way that sometimes you don't even realize it is video. It is the most effective use of video in a show that I have seen to date.
Kevin Massey as Monty will actually have you rooting for him earned the title of Earl. His betrayal is fun, lighthearted and while he is telling his story from a jail cell as he writes his autobiography you will be eager for his release.
Adrienne Eller as Phoebe is delightful. Her portrayal of the innocent honest and sincere Phoebe who wholeheartedly loves Monty we'll leave you almost rooting for her. But this isn't the type of play where you want the good guy to win. This is the kind of play that will speak to your darker side.
Enter Kristin Beth Williams as Siberia. Passing up the chance to Mary Monty because of his lack of social standing before he knew he was in line to be an earl this character takes you on a ride that is so much fun and while you know she is only motivated by greed you'll find yourself rooting for her, it’s just that kind of show.
With the great ensemble cast there is a lot to praise in Gentlemen's Guide. But the greatest praise of all is owed to John Rapson. He plays the entire D’Ysquith family. He dies more times than Joan Collins has been married and each time is funnier than the last (like Collins’ marriages). Playing characters both male and female Rapson was so good in his roles that it wasn't until curtain call that I realized all these characters had been played by one man. I cannot give a greater compliment than that.
Gentleman’s Guide is so fun and funny it’s the type of show that you can go into in a bad mood and you will come out all smiles. Sometimes you need a show that's just a lot of fun. There is no moral point, no commentary on some social issue, it is just a great night out and a lot of fun for anyone who walks through the theater door. This is that show.
A Gentleman's Guide plays through Sunday, August 28 at the Winspear Opera House. Tickets are $25.-$215 and available at http://www.attpac.org/on-sale/2016/gglam/
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