Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE at Porchlight Music Theatre

Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE at Porchlight Music Theatre

A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, in its local debut now at Porchlight Music Theatre, is a devilish musical theater delight. Porchlight's staging is all the more delectable with veteran musical theater actor Matt Crowle leading the way-in eight distinct roles.

Robert L. Freedman and Stephen Lutvak's amusing and original 2014 Tony Award-winning musical focuses on Monty Navarro (André Enriquez), an impoverished young man living in Edwardian England who discovers he is a member of the wealthy D'Ysquith family. Only eight family members stand in the way between Monty and his spot as Earl of Highhurst Castle. The catch? Monty must off them all to rightfully claim the title and privilege the D'Ysquiths have long deprived him. The other catch? The same actor (in this case Crowle) portrays all the pesky family members standing in the way. And while Monty takes care of family business, he also finds himself in a love triangle between the rapturous Sibella Hayward (Emily Goldberg) and his cousin Phoebe D'Ysquith (Ann Delaney). Luckily, the latter doesn't precede Monty on the way to inherit Highhurst Castle.

A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE is a magnificent musical whirlwind, pulling the best elements of farce without being too overbearing. Set designer Angie Miller has designed a simple, period-perfect space that allows the actors to navigate between a number of locations. Jeff Hendry's costume designs deck out the ensemble in over-the-top Edwardian garb that suits the musical's outsized nature.

Director and choreographer Stephen Schellhardt mines A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE for every moment of humor, both spoken and physical, and the ensemble gamely rise to the challenge. Enriquez has a decidedly sinister take on Monty; his Monty knows the game from the start and doesn't have an ounce of timidity about taking on the D'Ysquiths. He doesn't so much as fall into this revenge plot as embrace it wholeheartedly; it's a darker approach to the role than I've seen in the past, and Enriquez also conveys that tone in his commendable vocals. Goldberg gives an astounding vocal performance as Sibella, and her acting choices are punchy and endlessly entertaining. Delaney also displays formidable vocal chops as Phoebe. And when Goldberg and Delaney sing alongside Enriquez in the farcical Act Two number "I've Decided to Marry You," it's easy to tell that all these actors have killer vocals (pun intended). The ensemble as a whole doesn't miss a beat.

A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE owes much of its humor and entertaining strength, though, to the gentleman who plays all the D'Ysquiths. Crowle wins the day here. He's positively elastic, both in terms of facial and body expressions, and he easily slides from one character to another; sometimes within a matter of seconds. Crowle is an expert at physical humor, and A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE quite literally allows him to wear many hats. He sings and dances his way through his portrayals of all the family members, and he's dynamite at every turn. Though the D'Ysquiths may be felled one by one in A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE, nothing can stop Crowle from stealing the show.

Porchlight Music Theatre's A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER runs through March 16 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 North Dearborn. Tickets are $39-$66. Visit PorchlightMusicTheatre.org.

Photo Credit: Michael Courier



VIDEO: Eric Einhorn Discussing the Production of HANSEL & GRETEL Photo
Based on the beloved fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, HANSEL AND GRETEL gets a whimsical makeover in this popular production. Watch director Eric Einhorn bringing this production to life on stage.

VODE: Get A First Look At Marriott Theatres With BIG FISH, The Musical Photo
The Marriott Theatre's 2023 season launches with the family-friendly musical adventure, BIG FISH, now on stage through March 19, 2023. Get a first look at the production.

Photos: Go Inside Rehearsals for CHLORINE SKY at Steppenwolf Theatre Photo
Get a first look at the Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ world premiere adaptation of Chlorine Sky, by Mahogany L. Browne.

Photos: First Look at the World Premiere of THE FACTOTUM at Lyric Opera of Chicago Photo
Get a first look at the world premiere of The Factotum at Lyric Opera of Chicago, running February 3-12, 2023.


From This Author - Rachel Weinberg

Chicago native Rachel Weinberg has been one of the most frequent contributing editors and critics for BroadwayWorld Chicago since joining the team in 2014. She is a marketing professional specializ... (read more about this author)


Review: THE RIPPLE, THE WAVE THAT CARRIED ME HOME at Goodman TheatreReview: THE RIPPLE, THE WAVE THAT CARRIED ME HOME at Goodman Theatre
January 24, 2023

In the ripple, the wave that carried me home, protagonist Janice must metaphorically reckon with her homecoming and her childhood in the fictional Beacon, Kansas.

Review: CABARET at Porchlight Music TheatreReview: CABARET at Porchlight Music Theatre
January 20, 2023

What did our critic think of CABARET at Porchlight Music Theatre? Porchlight invites audiences into the glittering, gritty world of early 1930s Berlin with John Kander and Fred Ebb’s iconic musical CABARET. Under the direction of Porchlight Artistic Director Michael Weber and with associate direction and choreography by Brenda Didier, this production largely belongs to Erica Stephan in the role of Sally Bowles. As the seductive and desperate nightclub singer, Sally, Stephan is an absolute dream. She not only plays the character’s arc beautifully, moving from artful seduction to total desperation and panic by the show’s end, but she showcases her powerful belt and vocal control in each of Sally’s solo numbers. In this way, Porchlight’s production mirrors Sally’s character arc; as the other characters in the show are awakened to the realities of the Nazi party’s rise to power, they must contend with the fact that life is not, in fact, a cabaret.

Review: BALD SISTERS at Steppenwolf Theatre CompanyReview: BALD SISTERS at Steppenwolf Theatre Company
December 12, 2022

What did our critic think of BALD SISTERS at Steppenwolf Theatre Company? Steppenwolf presents a new twist on the well-trod territory of the dysfunctional family drama with Vichet Chum’s BALD SISTERS. As far as dysfunctional families go, too, the family in BALD SISTERS doesn’t have the most baggage. That said, Chum’s characters still have plenty to contend with as sisters Him and Sophea mourn the loss of their mother. The play is a meditation on the circle of life, but I appreciate that BALD SISTERS is an exercise in subtlety as far as family dramas go. As a result, some of Chum’s scenes meander and don’t seem to have a purpose within the context of the play, but I like that BALD SISTERS has themes that wash over audiences rather than hit them over the head.

Review: Porchlight Revisits THE APPLE TREEReview: Porchlight Revisits THE APPLE TREE
December 9, 2022

Porchlight Music Theatre invited audiences to take another bite of musical theater history with Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s THE APPLE TREE. The musical, composed of three one-acts centered on the theme of temptation, was the season opener for the Porchlight Revisits series. As usual, Porchight Artistic Director Michael Weber introduced the show with a brief educational talk on THE APPLE TREE’s history.

Movies This Christmas Season for Broadway Fans — Old and NewMovies This Christmas Season for Broadway Fans — Old and New
November 17, 2022

Here’s our selection of brand-new, recent, and classic festive films featuring some of theater’s most iconic faces that you won’t want to miss.