BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER at Florida Rep is Delightfully Deadly
Florida Repertory Theatre's production of A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, directed by Jason Parrish, tells the story of Monty Navarro, a young man who learns he is part of the D'Ysquith family and is in line to become the Earl of Highhurst; the only problem is, there are 8 other D'Ysquiths in line ahead of him. Things get a bit tricky as Monty decides to, as you can guess from the title of the show, try and murder his way into becoming the Earl.
Monty is played by David Darrow, and I thoroughly enjoyed his portrayal. There are many moments during the show where the rest of the action pauses and Monty turns to the audience to share his inner thoughts, and Darrow's execution of this was perfect. His performance, from his singing to his facial expressions and beyond, was fantastic to watch.
Monty happens to be in love with Sibella Hallward (played by Gail Bennett), but she marries another man because he is richer than Monty. Of course, this doesn't stop Monty and Sibella from having some sort of relationship, and when Phoebe D'Ysquith (Alex May) enters the picture, things get a little more complicated. I really enjoyed seeing the dynamic of the relationships between all of them on stage; of course, if you really think about the fact that Sibella is married and Phoebe is Monty's cousin, it really is not a great situation, but I think that adds to the humor of this show. Both of these women are excellent in both their acting and singing as well, and I really appreciated their performances. One of my favorite scenes was when Phoebe pays Monty a visit while Sibella is over ("I've Decided to Marry You"); it was absolutely hilarious, as were many other parts of the show, and I could tell based on the audience's reaction that I wasn't the only one who thought so.
The D'Ysquith family is played by Marcus Stevens, and he did a phenomenal job. He plays 8 (well, 9, really) different characters, and he made each one of them very distinct and funny, and I was very impressed. Of course, Monty is on a mission to kill each of his characters off, and it was thoroughly entertaining to see this drama ensue.
The rest of the ensemble includes Jan Neuberger (Miss Shingle/Woman 1), Kylie Gray Mask (Woman 2), Chrissy Albanese (Woman 3), Jon Cooper (Man 1), Samuel Floyd (Man 2), and Thomas Hadzeriga (Man 3). They all took on multiple roles throughout the show, including playing paintings that came to life, and I thought each one was excellent.
A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER is a production I've been looking forward to seeing for a long time, and Florida Rep absolutely did not disappoint. The show has so much humor, an intriguing storyline, a beautiful set (designed by David Arsenault), gorgeous costumes (designed by Charlene Gross), wonderful music (directed by Victoria Casella), and so much more. When the show begins with "A Warning to the Audience," a song telling you to get out, you know you're in for something special and a bit more comedic. I would definitely recommend getting tickets to this production before they sell out! I really loved this show, and I think you will, too.
A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER is playing in Florida Rep's Historic Arcade Theatre now through March 7. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7 PM, Friday-Saturday at 8 PM, with 2 PM matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. To buy tickets, you can visit www.floridarep.org, call Florida Rep at 239-332-4488, or stop by the box office at 2268 Bay Street, Fort Myers, FL, 33901.
Photo Credit: Joe Dafeldecker