BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER at Winspear Opera House
Equal parts killing and comedy, with a dash of drama is the recipe to the 2014 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER.
Set on the eve of his execution, the show immediately centers in on Monty Navarro, who had learned not long ago of his family roots leading back to the wealthy D'Ysquith family. Because his recently departed mother chose a life of love over luxury, their branch of the family tree has been cut off from any financial endowment. As it turns out, Monty is technically ninth in line to inherit any family fortune, so he does what anyone would do: he sets out to kill those that stand between him and the cash. And there's a love triangle thrown in, too.
Although the score is filled with entirely forgettable tunes, the show is overstuffed with enough wit to fill the large Winspear Opera house, where the tour performs through August 28th. A warning, though: this isn't the kind of song-and-dance show that you'll want to sit back and take in; be prepared to sit on the edge of your seat to catch the wickedly wordy text.
This tour features no recognizable names or faces, but the top-notch cast is utter perfection. As the principal protagonist, Kevin Massey (as Monty) commands the stage with a golden voice and endless charm. The fact that Massey had the opening night audience supporting his scheme so quickly might be frightening, but just goes to show his skill on stage. John Rapson, whose chameleon-like transformations were quite breath taking, plays all eight members in the D'Ysquith line of inheritance-male and female. For many patrons, it wasn't until Rapson bowed that they realized it was one man covered in so many genius disguises. As Phoebe, the only D'Ysquith who stands behind Monty in inheritance, Adrienne Eller's sweet voice and sincere approach provided the perfect balance in an otherwise over-the-top evening; and DFW-raised Kristen Beth Williams, as the object of Monty's affection, Sibella, is all you could ask for in a divine soprano with impeccable comedic timing. (It should be noted that Williams will remain in Dallas to star as Guinevere in Lyric Stage's production of CAMELOT, which performs September 9th-18th.)
Although the songs and scenes (by Steven Lutvak and RoBert Freedman) in GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE may occasionally drag, the dark humor unrolls rapidly. Fans of CLUE or THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD are sure to feel the similarity in style and comedy. The show is suitable for audiences of all ages, but the pace might not keep the attention of a younger crowd.
Tickets and information about A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER can be found at www.ATTPAC.org. The tour performs through August 28th.