A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, this long-winded title belongs to none other than the winner of Best Musical at the 2014 Tony Awards. This being said, one’s expectations can be held at quite an extraordinary level, especially since the U.S. Broadway tour is downright hilarious. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder can best be described as a whimsical, melodramatic soap opera set for the stage. The show’s comedy comes from the actors’ ability to play their roles over the top, both physically and vocally. The show’s setting, turn of the century England, adds to the melodrama and is a gateway to endless laughter.
Speaking of laughter, the four leads of the show all had magnificent chemistry with each other. The love triangle between Monty (Kevin Massey), Phoebe (Adrienne Eller), and Sibella (Kristen Beth Williams) was a truly magnificent piece of art. One of the best numbers in the show was “I’ve Decided to Marry You”. The audience was bursting at the seams as Monty fought to keep the two women from knowing he was seeing them both. By far the most impressive actor was John Rapson, who played all eight members of the D’Ysquith family that Monty kills. Each D'Ysquith is vastly different from the other, and it is incredible how quickly Rapson can evolve from being the general, to the charity woman, to the flamboyant beekeeper.
While the performance delivered by the actors was larger than life, the technical aspects were quite the opposite. The set was erected to be a stage within a stage, but the second stage only took up about half of the original one. This may be part of what made this show much more intimate than typical Broadway shows. The small cast of only eleven people contributed to this feeling as well. This approach to the story was very interesting, because it mirrored the plot. The audience is let in on the secrets of Monty Navarro’s murder campaign, and the intimate setting conveyed this idea excellently. That being said, this didn’t keep the designers from putting their Broadway icing on the cake. The entire backdrop was made of lavish velvet curtains that resembled waterfalls of blood. The proscenium of the second stage was meticulously decorated with reds and blues, and seemed a part of the State Theatre’s architecture itself. On top of all of this, moving projections helped display each setting with a sense of sophistication.
I can confidently say that anyone who goes to see this show will surely die… well, of laughter that is. The show is not only well written and performed, but the scenes flow from one to the next, which really speaks to the work of the director, Darko Tresnjak. All of the aspects of this show intertwine to create a truly captivating piece of art and it lives up to all of the expectations thrust upon it.