At the Walter Kerr Theatre members of the D’Ysquith family are being knocked off – one by one – in this sparkling new, wacky, witty and just plain wonderful new musical A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER based on a 1907 novel by Roy Horniman and brought to vibrant life so that we may enjoy these murders by newcomers Steven Lutvak (music and lyrics) and Robert L. Freedman (book and lyrics). It is absolutely refreshing to see and hear some new voices on Broadway. The score is tuneful and the book and lyrics smart and very, very funny.
With a stage set within the stage set cleverly designed by Alexander Dodge that allows the action to unfold when the curtain rises on each scene and then falls with a striking tableau, it is reminiscent of a Punch and Judy English Music Hall presentation of a Gilbert and Sullivan musical of an Agatha Christie multiple murder crime mystery.
Although we know whodunit or who is going to do it and we know why as the would be murderer awaits with bated breath as do we for the hysterical opportunities to arise so that he can do them in, in order that he can become the next Earl of Highhurst. But I’m getting ahead of myself so excited was I after seeing this exuberant musical.
Monty Navarro (Bryce Pinkham a super triple threat actor) has just discovered through an old family friend Miss Shingle (a delightful and sassy Jane Carr) that his just departed mom was disinherited by the wealthy and powerful D’Ysquith family as she married for love and not position and that he, Monty Navarro is a D’Ysquith and in line to become Earl one day. The only problem is that there are eight others before him and so he decides to knock them off one by one. Each in a surprising and delicious way.
An exceptional Jefferson Mays plays each of these characters with wild abandon in a tour de force performance rivaled only by his equally exceptional co-star Mr. Pinkham. What an exceptional pair they make.
As if the murders were not enough Monty has to balance his love life between the vain Sibella Hallward (Lisa O’Hare) and the lovely Phoebe D’Ysquith (Lauren Worsham) both of whom are more than the sum of their parts. They partake in two numbers “I’ve Decided to Marry You” and “That Horrible Woman” that are scrumptious.
The period costumes by Linda Cho are pitch perfect (look for the fox tails on Lady Eugenia’s (a great Joanna Glushak) bustle. The many quick changes of Mr. Mays are baffling to behold. The show backstage must be as interesting and amusing as the show itself that is impeccably directed by Darko Tresnjak Artistic Director of Hartford Stage that along with The Old Globe brings us this inspired production.
Murder might be nothing to laugh at but with A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER one can’t help oneself. Will Monty, charming rogue that he is, get caught?
There are laughs and unexpected surprises right up until the final moments in this sublime crime spree. Beyond highly recommended.
www.agentlemansguidebroadway.com Photos: Joan Marcus
Tags: No Comments