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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 22, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 30
A Gentleman's Guide - A killer comedy
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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A Gentleman's Guide - A killer comedy

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE
TO LOVE & MURDER
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through July 31


There is the theory that everyone plots revenge at some time in his or her life. It is safe to say that very few (except for Sweeney Todd) do it through a Broadway musical. A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder is a tale of revenge, social climbing, and love. It is a hysterical farce with good music and creative murder. Currently playing at the 5th Avenue Theatre, you will be regret it if you don't go and see A Gentleman's Guide.

The story takes place in London in 1909 in London. Monty Navarro is a provincial clerk in love with a pretentious social climbing girlfriend named Sibella Hallward. Monty finds out that he is a descendent of the prestigious D'Ysquith family. The idea of moving up the social ladder begins to form, but eight people need to die in order for Monty to claim his title as Earl. One by one, Monty sets out to bump off his relations and move closer to the top. It is only when he meets the lovely Phoebe D'Ysquith that complications start to set it.

The actors in this comedy are all excellent. The two women playing the love interests Sibella (Kristen Beth Williams) and Phoebe (Adrienne Eller) are opposites in character and united in their talents. The ladies' voices and stage presence are both strong and each has a chance to shine in their fantastic song ('I've Decided to Marry You'), where both women, unaware of the other, sing of their affections for Monty from two very different perspectives.

Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey) is the lead of the show and for good reason. His character is incredibly likable and charming, which is what is needed for a musical theatre murderer. Mr. Massey's voice is strong and easily understood, even with the 5th Avenue's uneven acoustics. (A much-anticipated new sound system is going to be installed at the 5th Avenue for their 2016-2017 season.) It's the little gestures and body language of Mr. Massey that makes his character so endearing to the audience. We cheer and root for him from the very beginning, and his animated features and actions makes him that much more appealing.

Without a doubt it is John Rapson who is the star of this show. Playing more than nine separate roles, including two female members of the D'Ysquith family, Mr. Rapson is a master of physical comedy and costume. Each family member is distinctively different and funny. Whether it's the Reverend, or Lady Hyacinth or Henry D'Ysquith (who happens to be a Gay man), each character is uniquely brought to the stage with an equally unique (and highly comical) death scene.

Alexander Dodge - the scenic designer - deserves special mention here for his brilliant combination of stage setting and motion picture backdrop. To emphasize certain death scenes (falling from heights for example) Mr. Dodge uses a designed screen with moving pictures to help give depth and a vantage point to great humorous effect. While this is not the first time animated/moving backdrops have been used (Sunday in the Park with George or The Woman in White), it is perhaps one of the simplest and most effective ways to bring an audience into the scenes. Kudos to the production team for working with this venue, and for doing it extremely well!

A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder is a fun show. The music is catchy, the lyrics are intelligent and the storyline is comically entertaining. The audience was unanimous in their laughing and in showing their applause at the final curtain. The first act is a little long (running approximately 90 minutes) but will still keep you easily engrossed in the story.

For more information and tickets, visit www. https://www.5thavenue.org/? or call 206-625-1900.



A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder is based on the Roy Horniman 1907 novel, Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal. The musical opened on Broadway on November 17, 2013 and played for over 900 performances. Nominated for nine Tony Awards (including Scenic Designer Alexander Dodge, and two nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role), it won three 2014 Tony Awards including Best Book of a Musical.

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