BWW Review: A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER Slays Audiences at the 10th Annual Davis Shakespeare Festival
Move over, Sweeney Todd. There's a new serial killer in town by the name of Monty Navarro. Yet, you need not fear if you aren't a D'Ysquith (yes, that's pronounced die-squith). A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is based on the 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman. It opened on Broadway in 2013 and won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Now, the Davis Shakespeare Festival (DSF) has delivered it to us as a thrilling, hilarious, and captivating summer treat.
Monty Navarro is mourning his mother's death when he is visited by a stranger, Miss Shingle, who claims to be an old friend of hers. She delivers the news that Monty's mother was a member of the noble D'Ysquith family and that he is 9th in line to become the Earl of Highhurst. His mother was disowned by her family for marrying Monty's father, a Castilian musician, and spent the rest of her life penniless. Armed with this new knowledge, Monty sets off to systematically eliminate the successors to the D'Ysquith seat. His cleverly crafted designs are helped along by providence and, truly, you find yourself rooting for his success. No story would be complete without a romantic element, so Monty finds himself torn between two women. The shallow Sibella, who decided to marry another man for money before she learned of Monty's true heritage, and Monty's cousin, Phoebe, who wants to marry him out of love. Despite each one's distaste for the other, they must work together in the end in a surprisingly conniving twist.
DSF has pulled out all the stops this season to ensure their story is told in the most entertaining way possible. Daniel Sugimoto joins the cast as Monty Navarro, exuding ambition and charisma while simultaneously maintaining a boyish charm and wonder when things go his way. Sibella, that coquettish creature, is played by the sparkling soprano, Kyra Kozlenko. Her rival, Phoebe D'Ysquith, is the heroine that we all want to come out on top and is flawlessly brought to life by a sweetly candid Alyssa Giannetti. Most impressive is DSF alumnus Kyle Stoner, who somehow manages to capture the essence of every single other member of the D'Ysquith family. He switches seamlessly from each of his 8 roles-male and female, gay and straight, young and old-and adds an impeccable comedic flair. His song as Henry D'Ysquith, "Better With a Man," is the highlight of the show.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is an ideal start to the special 10th season of the Davis Shakespeare Festival and plays through August 4. This summer's theme of "legacy and family" continues concurrently with The Tenth Muse and, later in the fall, The Comedy of Errors. Tickets may be purchased by visiting www.shakespearedavis.org.
Photo credit: Yarcenia Garcia