There’s a lot going on, but every bit of it is entertaining!
You know you’re in for a devilishly delightful evening when a show opens with “A Warning to the Audience”—specifically one directed at those with a “weak constitution.” This eerie introduction foreshadows the likelihood of blood spill, but if you truly are among the faint of heart, not to worry! A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder isn’t Sweeney Todd. Yes, it’s sinister, but in a way that will most definitely make you snicker!
As the show opens, the audience has the pleasure of witnessing Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey) receive the best news he’s ever heard in his entire life: He’s a D’Ysquith or, as his mysterious messenger, Miss Shingle (Mary VanArsdel), sings “you’re a D’Ysquith, a D–apostrophe–Y–squith!”
What’s so great about that?
- The D’Ysquiths are an aristocratic family (which means money, money, MONEY—something Navarro has very little of)!
- Unbeknownst to Navarro, his late mother had been disinherited. Regardless, this development meant he was technically in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst. So what if he was eight people away from the coveted, prestigious position…
Unfortunately, Navarro’s attempt to be chummy with his estranged relatives isn’t well received. This is poor judgment on their parts because their rude response lends itself to Navarro’s notion that all he has to do is ensure those ahead of him in the lineage die—and quickly!
If you glance through your playbill before the show, you’ll notice that the D’Ysquith family is played by only one actor, the astounding John Rapson. One thing you should know about this rambunctious, entitled pack is that every family member Navarro encounters is as over-the-top as the next yet. Each has a distinct personality that differentiates them thanks to Rapson and Gentleman’s Guide book writer Robert L. Freedman.
As if all of this doesn’t sound chaotic enough, there’s an additional element of conflict that not surprisingly involves matters of the heart. Navarro is in love with Sibella Hallward (Kristen Beth Williams), but she wouldn’t dream of marrying him (initially anyway) due to his lack of money. He’s basically just her make out buddy. However, there’s soon another woman after Navarro’s affection, his cousin Phoebe D’Ysquith (Adrienne Eller). There’s a lot going on, but every bit of it is entertaining!
The cast of A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder is marvelous. There wasn’t a single weak performance. That being said, I can’t gush enough about Rapson’s work here. Much of the show’s comedy comes from his slew of eccentric characters. Their goofiness is best showcased in song—because this is a musical after all and a catchy, memorable one at that! Steven Lutvak’s music and lyrics (which Freedman also contributed to) are whimsical, refreshing, and wonderfully wacky. Every number is great, but my personal favorite is “I’ve Decided to Marry You.” It’s the shining moment for the show’s female leads, Williams and Eller, and is pictured above.
Okay, one last thing (promise!): The set design is brilliant! I want you to see it for yourself, but all I’ll say is it ingeniously involves a stage on the stage, curtains and all.
Now, what else is there for me to say but GO! See this show! The Fabulous Fox couldn’t have selected a better opener. (And stop by Curtain Call Lounge before or afterwards. My husband and I popped in for the first time, and it’s as charming and elegant as ever. Cheers!) | Megan Washausen
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder runs at The Fox through September 25. For ticket information, visit http://www.fabulousfox.com/.