A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder Jan27

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A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

First thing I need to admit, I am a theatre nerd. I love amazing performances, mind blowing sets, and maybe don’t get me started on costumes and lights. It makes seeing shows difficult sometimes. But then there are magical moments where I see a show that is so absolutely captivating that I am able to just watch, mesmerized.

National Touring Company. Kristen Beth Williams as Sibella Hallward and Kristen Hahn as Phoebe D’Ysquith in a scene from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is nothing short of an absolutely wonderful show. It is easy to see why it was nominated for ten Tony Awards in 2014 and won four of them, including Best Musical. Based on the 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman, with music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak and lyrics and book Robert L. Freedman, this show clips along at a pace that leaves you wanting more, and then singing about poison in your pocket or how I’ve decided to marry you to various people you come in contact with throughout the next day or two. To top it all off you have a lavish set designed by Alexander Dodge, with projected backdrop designs by Aaron Rhyne to add to the whimsey, without taking away from the traditional stagecraft.

With a small cast, and the majority of them playing several characters, it had this theatre nerd wondering, How did they do it?

Kevin Massey plays the charming Monty Navarro, who quickly learns he is far down the line of succession in the D’Ysquith family. When the lovely Sibella, the woman Monty loves, decides to marry money instead of marrying him, a nefarious plan is hatched. Why not get rid of the eight D’Ysquith ahead of him? Massey’s Navarro is so engaging that you hardly mind that he quickly disposes of all eight of the D’Ysquiths, all of whom are played by John Rapson. I will talk about Rapson and his eight characters later.

The talented Kristen Beth Williams and Kristen Hahn, play Monty’s rival love interests, Sibella Hallward and Phoebe D’Ysquith. Both of these women are fantastic. They are such a wonderful representation of classic tropes, while turning them on their heads at the same time. And Ms. Hahn’s ability to reach the rafters with her notes makes me a smidge jealous.

The person, well maybe persons, you end up talking about the most are the eight D’Ysquiths, all of whom are played by Rapson. His effortless leaps from character to character leave you anxiously awaiting his next on-stage appearance. At one point I was even trying to watch the show, while counting how long he had to change his costume. My personal favorite D’Ysquith was Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith, the current Earl of Highhurst. You meet him with a charming song called ‘I Don’t Understand the Poor’ in which he laments the fact that he now has to open his family home to the lower classes for tours. He and his wife Lady Eugenia D’Ysquith, played by Kristen Mengelkoch,  seem to be the most bitter rivals, but their snipes at each other will have you laughing loudly.

I saw this leg of the tour at the wonderful Tennessee Performing Art Center, where A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder will be playing through January 29, 2017. If the tour comes through your area, be sure to catch it. Find out more at AGentlemansGuideBroadway.com

For more information about A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at TPAC visit: http://www.tpac.org/spotlight/tag/a-gentlemans-guide-to-love-and-murder/