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BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER at EPAC

The production plays now through May 14th.

BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER at EPAC

Feel free to disagree, but EPAC's current production of A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder is a great example of attempting to create a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

First, the good news. As usual, the talent on the Ephrata stage is stellar. Scott Sealover shines as Monty Navarro, a genial English chap who decides to kill his way to nobility by bumping off his kin that preceded him to the title of the Ninth Earl of Highhurst. Sealover knows how to appeal to his audience, and has a certain Daniel Radcliffe-vibe about him. He is easy to like, which makes his dirty deeds all the easier for us to swallow.

Jordon Ross Weinhold is simply listed as "The D'Ysquiths" in the program. Weinhold creatively portrays the various family members (men, women, young & old) that Monty must bump off in order to advance up the pecking order. Weinhold is a joy on stage and does a very effective job of distinguishing each character, not unlike the best work of Frank Morgan or Peter Sellers. Many of his costume quick changes were impressive.

Stacia Renell Smith and Maya Burdick play Sibella and Phoebe, Monty's competing love interests. Both women looked lovely in an array of elegant costumes. They each had many opportunities to show off impressive operatic vocal ranges.

Director, Kevin Ditzler effectively used a bare stage for his cast of eleven. The backdrop picture frame utilized a digital projection that served as the ever-changing setting. Kudos to his creatively interactive death scenes.

While the Ephrata cast and crew were top notch, the show they were given just didn't work for me. The plot was pretty simple with the majority of the first act devoted to the repetitive task of Monty knocking off the competition. While individually fun, stacked up back to back to back to back, these scenes soon wore out their welcome.

Adding to the repetitiveness, much of the score sounded very similar, with none of the songs being particularly catchy. The lyrics were often difficult to comprehend, especially when sung by the chorus. Listening to the original cast album on the way home, I can confirm this is a problem with original show, not the EPAC singers.

Lastly, I felt the tone of the show was off. Humor was often underplayed, and I would have preferred something more campy or manic overall. For the first 15 minutes or so, I wasn't even positive that the show was a comedy.

Opinions are notoriously like a certain body part because everyone has one. Clearly, some people love this show. It won the 2014 Tony for Best Musical. Critics describe the original production as "morbidly hilarious" and "ingenious". So take what I say with a shaker of salt. Come see the show and make up your own mind.

Tickets and more information can be found on the EPAC home page.

 



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From This Author - Rich Mehrenberg