A Gentleman’s Guide to Murder…err, LOVE & MURDER opened at The Ahmanson Theatre in Downtown, Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Based on the 1907 book by Ron Horniman, “A Gentleman’s Guide” brings to life (and death) the story of Montague Navarro (Kevin Massey), a penniless young lad, who learns that he is the son of the daughter of the grandson of the nephew of the second Earl of Highhurst (and a D’Ysquith). With this new-found knowledge, Monty writes the D’Ysquith family, explaining his position and if there might be a job available for him. Lord Asquith D’Ysquith Jr. (John Rapson) responds to Monty’s letter warning him never to make contact again and denounces his claims of his late mother’s connection to the family. Hoping to reason with them, Monty decides to pay a visit to Highhurst Castle.
Before setting off, Monty informs his sweetheart, Sibella Hallward (Kristen Beth Williams) of the news but is delivered some news himself, when she reveals her plans to marry another suitor due to his affluent status.
During his visit with the Reverend Lord Ezekial D’YSquith, it becomes clear to Monty that the best way to repay the D’Ysquith family for his mothers condemnation is through revenge and retribution. And thus, in order for Monty to obtain his rightful inheritance, he would need to eliminate the heirs to jump the line of succession. Unfortunately, for the aristocratic family, that meant each beneficiary soon faced their own untimely demise.
Amidst the deaths, Monty begins to fall for his distant cousin Phoebe D’Ysquith (Adrienne Eller) and they announce their plans to marry. The engagement doesn’t sit well with Sibella, as she finally professes her love to Monty.
With only Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith standing between Monty and the title, he calculates a plan to poison him during a dinner party at Highhurst Castle. Before he can commit the murder though, Lord Adalbert drops dead when is he poisoned by someone else in the castle. Later, the Chief Inspector from Scotland Yard arrests Monty for the murder of Lord Adalbert, which ironically is the only D’Ysquith death he had no part in. Now imprisoned, the two women in Monty’s life, Sibella and Phoebe come to the rescue and try to free the man they love. Furthermore, the question remains…who killed Lord Adalbert?
Kevin Massey leads the stellar cast as the dashing, Monty Navarro D’Ysquith. Massey portrays the anti-hero with a perfect balance of brute and charm. Massey is no stranger to the production, as he appeared as Tom Copley in Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder on Broadway. His other credits include Memphis and Disney’s Tarzan (Broadway)
John Rapson stars as The D’Ysquith Family (Lord Asquith D’Ysquith Sr, Lord Asquith D’Ysquith Jr, Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith, Reverend Lord Ezekial D’Ysquith, Henry D’Ysquith, Lady Hyancith D’Ysquith. Major Lord Bartholomew D’Ysquith, Lady Salome D’Ysquith Pumphrey and Chauncey). Rapson’s dual role and quick changes is nothing short of impressive and mind-blowing. His other credits include Les Miserables (Broadway)
Kristen Beth Williams is the flirtatious, vivacious, social-climber, Sibella Hallward. Williams is funny, witty and radiates incredible chemistry opposite, co-star, Massey. Her previous credits include Pippin, Anything Goes and Promises, Promises (Broadway)
Adrienne Eller plays the sweet, unassuming, Phoebe D’Ysquith. Eller’s superb vocals and comedic timing is truly the bees knees. Her previous credits include Next to Normal and Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Regional)
The winner of the 2014 Tony-Award for Best Musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” is also riveted with catchy musical numbers. From the cheeky, Act One opener, “A Warning to the Audience” to the rollicking, “I Don’t Understand the Poor,” the songs & lyrics, written by Steven Lutvak, help illustrate the ingenious comedic styling of the show. Phenomenal vocalizations are provided by both Kristen Beth Williams and Adrienne Eller in “That Horrible Woman” and Kevin Massey in his solo, “Sibella.” The highlight, however, was the musical number, “I’ve Decided to Marry You,” which features Monty in quite a predicament, as he tries to conceal Sibella and Phoebe from each other in the uproarious number.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” is a bloody, brilliant, masterpiece comedy that is not to be missed! The show runs now through May 1, 2016. Tickets are available by calling 213-972-4400 or online at http://www.centertheatregroup.org, or by visiting the Center Theatre Group box office at the Ahmanson Theatre. Ticket prices start at $25. The Ahmanson Theatre is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles.