BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER is Bloody Good Fun

BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER is Bloody Good Fun

What would you do if you discovered you were ninth in line to be the Earl of Highhurst? Do the other eight in as quickly as possible, of course! That's Monty Navarro's plan in Robert Freedman and Steven Lutvak's A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, the madcap Tony Award-winning musical now running at the Keller Auditorium as part of the Broadway in Portland series. For those of you only bought season tickets for a chance at Hamilton, you're in for a treat.

Let's take a step back. Montague Navarro, a poor but proper Englishman played by Blake Price, is mourning the loss of his mother when he receives an unexpected visit from a certain Miss Shingle (Kristen Kane), who reveals that he's a member of the wealthy D'Ysquith family. Not only that, but there are only eight people standing between him and an earldom.

Monty's initial attempts to contact the D'Ysquiths are rebuffed. So, driven by ambition and a desire for revenge against the people who disinherited his mother because she married for love rather than money, Monty hatches a plan to murder his way up the line of succession. Complicating the situation is a love triangle that includes Monty; his mistress, Sibella (Colleen McLaughlin), who marries someone else for money; and his cousin Phoebe D'Ysquith (Erin McIntyre), who's also the sister of one of Monty's targets.

Where things get really fun is the murders themselves. All of the D'Ysquiths ahead of Monty are played by James Taylor Odom. As such, he dies eight times during the show, from causes ranging from wind and ice to barbells and bees. Odom does this brilliantly. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to John Cleese, Odom also has a gift for physical comedy, ratcheting up the outrageousness with each death. The whole show feels at times like a Monty Python sketch.

In addition to Odom, what I enjoyed most about this production was Alexander Dodge's scenic design. The many settings -- from the inside of a church steeple to an idyllic English garden to various drawing and dining rooms -- are accomplished using bright, colorful projections on the back wall. The whole set is so rich and lush it looks like modern Technicolor.

A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER runs through Sunday. Details and tickets here.

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