Category Archive for: ‘Go See’

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder! a humdinger of a show

John Rapson portrays Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith (in red) in “A Gentleman’s Guide…” Photo by Joan Marcus.

John Rapson portrays Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith (in red) in “A Gentleman’s Guide…” Photo by Joan Marcus.

A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER!: Musical Farce/Comedy. Robert L. Freedman (Book/lyrics). Steven Lutvak (Music/lyrics). Darko Tresnjak (Director). SHN Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor Street, San Francisco, CA. 888-746-1799 or www.shnsf.com.

December 1 – 27, 2015 Rating: ★★★★★

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder! a humdinger of a show.

Very probably reviews of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder! will refer to it as a ‘killer of a show’. To avoid being obvious this reviewer prefers to use the word ‘humdinger’ referring to an ingenious method the ‘hero’ of the story uses to commit one of his eight murders involving humming/buzzing bees. Even with eight ghastly deeds the show is a hilarious farce/comedy that should not be missed. This National Tour production surely matches the Broadway production that won or was nominated for multiple Tony Awards.

The musical is based on the 1907 novel “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal” by Roy Horniman. It was also the basis for the delightful Kind Hearts and Coronets movie starring Alec Guiness but that title was for legal reasons verboten. It is staged as a series of English Music Hall vignettes on a fully curtained Edwardian stage occupying center stage at the SHN Golden Gate Theater with ancillary action on the fringes cleverly integrated with each vignette. The cleverest twist of all is having one actor playing the eight victims (male and female) of the D’Ysquith clan and John Rapson gives a superlative performance. Rapson’s co-star Kevin Massey earns accolades as the instigator of the nefarious plots and he shares those accolades with Kristen Beth Williams and Adrienne Eller.

It all begins with a prologue by the ensemble dressed in mourning clothes suggesting “those of you of weaker constitution” leave the theatre. No one does and the story begins. It is 1909 Lord Montague D’Ysquith Navarro, Ninth Earl of Highhurst (Kevin Massey), is in a prison cell writing his memoirs to be titled “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” The story is told in flashbacks and voice overs beginning with impecunious Monty Navvaro (Massey) learning from the mysterious Miss Shingle (audience favorite Mary VanArsdel) that he is a D’Ysquith and ninth in the line to the title of Earl of Highhurst.

Rapson first appears the nasty as Asquith D’Ysquith, Jr. and as the play progresses with his quick costume and demeanor changes becomes Lord Adalbert, Reverend Ezekial, Lord Asquith Sr., Henry, Lady Hyacinth, Major Bartholomew, Lady Salome and finally Chauncey D’Ysquith. The methods of doing the dastardly deeds are fantastically assisted by projections, sound, music and stage action that is awesome.

Sibella (Kristen Beth Williams, left) and Phoebe D'Ysquith (Adrienne Eller) flank Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey) in “A Gentleman's Guide…” Photo by Joan Marcus.

Sibella (Kristen Beth Williams, left) and Phoebe D’Ysquith (Adrienne Eller) flank Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey) in “A Gentleman’s Guide…” Photo by Joan Marcus.

Kristen Beth Williams and Adrienne Eller as Monty’s love interests share the wildest scene in the play in the “I’ve Decided to Marry You” number involving are two rooms and two doors as Monty keeps the girls separated. The inventive direction of Darko Tresnjak is perfect since he has been in charge for the Broadway and pre-Broadway runs and now for the National tour. Running time is 2 hours and 20 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

CAST: John Rapson ,The D’Ysquith Family; Kevin Massey, Monty Navarro; Sibella Hallward, Kristen Beth Williams; Phoebe D’Ysquith, Adrienne Eller; Miss Shingle    , Mary VanArsdel; Lady Eugenia and others, Kristen Mengelkoch; Magistrate and others, Christopher Behmke; Tom Copley and others, Matt Leisy; Tour Guide and others,             Megan Loomis; Inspector Pinckney and others,      Ben Roseberry; Miss Evangeline Barley and others, Lesley McKinnell. (Note: The D’Ysquith family includes Asquith D’Ysquith, Jr., Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith, Reverend Lord Ezekial D’Ysquith, Lord Asquith D’Ysquith, Sr., Henry D’Ysquith, Lady Hyacinth D’Ysquith, Major Lord Bartholomew D’Ysquith, Lady Salome D’Ysquith Pumphrey, and Chauncey D’Ysquith.

ARTISTIC CULPERTS: Darko Tresnjak (Director); Robert L. Freedman (Book/lyrics); Steven Lutvak (Music/lyrics); Dyan Hugh Mackey (Producer); Peggy Hickey (Choreographer); Paul Staroba (Music Supervisor); Larry Goldberg (Music Director); Jonathan Tunick (Orchestrations); Alexander Dodge (Scenic Design); Linda Cho (Costume Design); Philip S. Rosenberg (Lighting Design); Dan Moses Schreier (Sound Design); Aaron Rhyne (Projection Design); Charles G. Lapointe (Hair & Wig Design); Brian Strumwasser (Make-up Design); Dianne Adams Mcdowell (Vocal Arrangements).

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com.

Photo Credit: JOAN MARCUS ; National Touring Company. The cast with John Rapson as Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith (red) in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.”

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