Of course we all love a good murder mystery. This is a very predictable yet enjoyable British class satire on how to move quickly to the top of local aristocracy. Once the die is cast, the heirs are murdered off to the highest Earl (in proper order, of course), and our poor relation hero discovers just how his loves move with his progress up the ladder.
The set, by Mark Mendelson, was admirable and the music, directed by Daniel Thomas, was very British “in-cheek well done.” Stage director Daren A.C. Carollo and music director Thomas crafted a very clever show. Lots of territory is covered in this satire, so we must not dally about.
Kevin Singer* does a perfect imitation of our hero, Monty. “Should I let him fall?”, Monty implies, when hanging on to the Reverend Lord Ezekial D’Ysquith over the edge. “Sure”, was the obvious answer to his dilemma. The result of this murder, and a second murder of a another D’Ysquith heir on ice, produce a good raise and hopes of more at the family bank.
Christine Capsuto-Shulman* plays a sexy Sibella, the love interest for Monty. Alas, Sibella cannot marry Monty because he is poor. The rising position at the family bank makes Monty more attractive, but Sibella is just not satisfied with the promise of wealth for Monty. She marries a tried and true aristocrat instead.
Such are the woes, heartaches and dangers of the British aristocracy. The next five heirs are handled handily, leaving the last heir in the blood line as a mystery for the end of the play.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder received Tony awards for best musical, best book of a musical, best direction of a musical and best costume design for the original Broadway production in 2014. This production brings out the best in these areas, with most charming performances of Melissa Wolfklain* as Phoebe and Teressa Foss* as Miss Shingle.
Matt Hammons* plays a most dotardly Lord Adalbert D’Ysequith, the last heir in the blood line. The last scene reveals Hammons as the true mystery of the show.
The eight ensemble members play multiple roles for the great entertainment of the audience. These and the seven main cast members sing and dance and tableau marvelously on the quaint stage of moving panels and platforms designed to bring the acting downstage into the audience. Their singing is superb, with operatic overtones to do justice to the British themes. Their talent makes up for the totally predictable script.
Good costumes are a must for a British satire, and Rebecca Valentino does not let us down. Her many period costumes, colors, wraps, hats and designs for multiple character changes made this show possible.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” continues at 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco through March 15, 2020. For further information: http://42ndstmoon.org/
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak is produced by 42nd Street Moon. Director: Daren A.C. Carollo. Music Director: Daniel Thomas. Choreographer: Christina Lazo. Scenic Designer: Mark Mendelson. Costume Designer: Rebecca Valentino. Lighting Designer: Claudio Andres Silva Restrepe.
Cast: Sibella Hallward: Christine Capsuto-Schulman*. Miss Shingle: Teressa Foss*. Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith: Matt Hammons*. Miss Barley: Amanda Johnson*. Lady Eugenia: Lee Ann Payne*. Montague “Monty” Navarro: Kevin Singer*. Phoebe D’Ysquith: Melissa Wolfklain*. Ensemble: Noel Anthony*, Sean Fenton*, Teressa Foss*, Nicole Helfer*, Amanda Johnson*, Hayley Lovgren, Nick Nakashima*, Lee AnnPayne*.