Highly Recommended **** I love a good old fashion musical comedy! It is truly an art form unto itself and the current Broadway In Chicago production of the Tony Award winning “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”, now on the stage at The Bank of America Theatre is exactly what we need! A zany romp through the life of one Monty Navarro (well played by Kevin Massey), a distant heir to the title of the family D’Ysquith family. His mother was a family member, but married beneath their station and was disowned by the family. Now Monty is plotting to take his proper place in the family as The Earl, but to do so, being 9th in succession, he must eliminate all of those who come before him. The eight heirs are played to sheer perfection by John Rapson, who is able to change characters and costumes as well as personalities in what seems seconds. Amazingly, the original movie that this story was based on, “Kind Hearts & Coronets ” circa 1949, featured Alec Guinness (a name from the past) handling these roles, one of his specialties. Rapson was up to the task, and then some. In fact, if I were to give the two gentlemen their own rating it would be *****. Watching them work the stage and bring this story (book and lyrics Robert L. Freedman and Music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak) to life, is a rare treat. True comedy with music that leaves you with a big smile on your way home.
The set (Alexander Dodge) fits the smallest of the Broadway In Chicago stages with ease, allowing this play within a play to keep our focus on the story and the characters we are meeting. Monty, explains to us that he has a history with this family and that he is writing a journal detailing his climb. We find that he has a love, Sibella ( the adorable and very sexy Kristen Beth Williams), but that she desires a man of power and wealth. We also meet his late mother’s close friend, Miss Shingle (divinely played by Mary VanArsdel) and of course, his cousin, who becomes his fiancée and then his wife, Phoebe ( deftly handled by Adrienne Eller). These are the ladies in his life, other than his late mother! The songs in this show are not ones that you will hum on the way out, although there were some cleverly done scenes on the stage within the stage, such as “Why Are All The D’Ysquiths Dying?”, “Poison in My Pocket”, “I’ve Decided to Marry You ” ( a very clever use of the stage) and the delightful “Better With A Man”.
Directed by Darko Tresnjak with choreography by Peggy Hickey, it is the cast of players that makes this 2 1/2 hour (there is an intermission) musical go quickly. In fact, I felt the opening night audience was hoping that there might be a bit more mayhem and murder! The ensemble is smaller than you might think, but large in talent and ability to become other characters- hats off to Christopher Behmke, Sarah Ellius, Matt Leisy, Megan Loomis, Kristen Mengelkoch, Lesley McKinnell, Dani Marcus, David Scott Purdy, Chuck Ragsdale and Ben Roseberry. As you can see, not a lot of people, but an enormous amount of talent! This is a quick paced, powerful musical that has the glitz and glamour that we expect of a Broadway musical, but at the same time, the feel of a “throwback” to the way it used to be. I loved it! I think you will as well.
Tuesdays 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2 and 7:30 p.m. (no evening on 10/11)
Tickets range from $25-$123 and can be purchased at any of the Broadway in Chicago theater box offices, by phone at 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
The Bank Of America Theatre is located at 18 West Monroe Street (between Dearborn and State).
To see where the show is heading ( for friends and family) visit www.AGentlemansGuideBroadway.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”