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This Musical Comedy Comes to Segerstrom Center for the Arts Stage for a Limited Time

Written By: Dave Carleen Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Photography By: Joan Marcus Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” is a joy to behold. The show has an unlikely, farcical plot of how Monty Navarro, surprisingly discovers that he has a distant family. He is the eighth in line to the D’Ysquith family fortune, then he proceeds to eliminate his relatives. Monty, played by Kevin Massey, imbibes the inane frolic and challenge of disposing of his distant relatives in a variety of hilarious ways and seems to thoroughly enjoy his successes!

However, the real star of the show is John Rapson, he plays all of the D’Ysquiths assassinated by Monty. The characters are, of course, quite exaggerated and stunningly hilarious, especially the flamboyant Lady Hyacinth D’Ysquith. She travels the world (at Monty’s suggestion) but dramatically and narrowly escapes several of Monty’s attempts. Rapson is a master of ludicrous exaggeration. Each of the D’Ysquiths he portrays is profoundly unique and insidiously funny. The costume changes this man makes during the show are astounding and some of them are incredibly fast.

Monty falls in love and woes a woman, Sibella, portrayed by Kristen Beth Williams, away from another man with promises of future societal ranking and incredible wealth. She falls for his line but their marriage plans are altered by one of the D’Ysquith family, Phoebe, who eagerly and definitively proposes to Monty. Their union gives Monty an ultimately legitimate climb to the “patriarch” position of the family and to the wealth. Though Phoebe is loving and dedicated to Monty, there is a vague feeling about Monty’s lingering feelings for Sibella. Both women have incredible singing voices and portray their characters very well.

The English accents are very distinct, consistent and differentiating throughout the cast, with even Cockney accents used as comedy relief. The entire cast of 15 plays multiple roles so convincingly that it was surprising at curtain call to see so few actors.

The play occurs in 1909 in London. The costumes, designed by Linda Cho, were not only appropriate for “upper crust” post-Victorian England, they were enchantingly spectacular. And the scenic design by Alexander Dodge was always a surprise, from people appearing through different parts of the set, to paintings and statues singing parts of a song, to being visually transported to somewhere far different than a theatre. And the various stage environments are enhanced and sometimes even defined by the images produced by projection designer, Aaron Rhyne.

The music and lyrics for this show are profoundly forgettable but are integrally integrated into the plot so that the foibles, intentions and desires of the characters are clearly expressed by the songs but unfortunately that doesn’t suffice for the music to stand alone. The overall show, with a ludicrous, hilarious  plot is profoundly entertaining and well worth attending. The show only plays three more shows here, two on Saturday and one on Sunday. The show won the 2013-14 Tony Award for the best music comedy. That caliber of a show awaits attendance!

Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Drive Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Costa Mesa, CA 92626 Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
714.556.2121 Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
See ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’ Before It’s Too Late!

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