BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER at Popejoy Hall
From the opening act onward, it's easy to see how A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder has received so much critical acclaim and praise. With exquisite set design and gorgeous costumes-that earned the original Broadway production a Tony Award-and phenomenal acting, this hilarious dark comedy is a musical no one will want to miss.
With book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, is loosely based off the 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal and subsequent 1949 film Kind Hearts and Coronets. The musical, which is on its second national tour, opened on Broadway on November 17, 2013, and ran until January 17, 2016. During its run, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder won four Tony Awards, seven Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, and a Drama League Award for best musical.
With a plot that any Agatha Christie fan is sure to appreciate, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder revolves around a penniless man, Montague "Monty" D'Ysquith Navarro (Blake Price), and his quest to claim his family inheritance, as well as the title of Earl of Highhurst, by any means necessary. In Monty's case, that means murdering eight of his relatives (all of whom are played by James Taylor Odom) in increasingly more absurd ways, as he is ninth in line to the D'Ysquith family fortune. As if getting away with murder and staying one step ahead of the police weren't difficult enough, Monty also has to juggle his fiancée, Lady Phoebe D'Ysquith (Erin McIntyre)-who also happens to be his cousin-and his mistress, Sibella Hallward (Colleen McLaughlin)-who loves him for his fortune-at the same time.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder has a stellar cast, each of whom play his or her part (and in Odom's case parts) to perfection. As Monty Navarro, Blake Price is both charming and conniving, leading the audience through Navarro's journey from a penniless and disinherited member of the D'Ysquith family to a man willing to commit murder once he learns of the inheritance that should be his. Price plays the part with charm and ease, making Narvarro likable enough that members of the audience at Popejoy Hall appeared to be cheering him on, even as he continued to kill members of his family in order to achieve his goals. As Phoebe D'Ysquith, Erin McIntyre's beautiful coloratura soprano helped to highlight Phoebe's innocence and overall kind-hearted nature. Colleen McLaughlin, as Sibella Hallward, brings depth and heart to a character that could easily be one-note. "I've Decided to Marry You" is a musical number that not only highlights Price, McLaughlin and McIntyre's ability to seamlessly combine the dramatic and comedic elements of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, as Monty tries to keep Phoebe and Sibella apart, but also left the audience cheering. James Taylor Odom's performance in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is nothing Short of show-stopping as he plays each member of the D'Ysquith family in a way that makes it seem effortless. Each family member-whether a man or woman, elderly or young-is a completely unique character and each easily distinguishable from the next. No matter the length of time the member of the D'Ysquith family is onstage, they always leave their mark on the audience.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is a hilarious and thoroughly entertaining night at the theatre that won't soon be forgotten. It is playing at Popejoy Hall from December 7 - December 10 before continuing on to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tickets can be purchased at http://popejoypresents.com or by calling the box office at (505) 925- 5858.