Wednesday, March 16, 2016

reviews - A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER - National Tour: ASU Gammage

Kristen Beth Williams, Kevin Massey, and Adrienne Eller
Photo by Joan Marcus
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through March 20th.

"...a struggling young man in Edwardian England who discovers he’s ninth in line to earn a title ...
 a show within a show presented in the style of a London theatre Music Hall ...when the show begins, Monty is already in jail.  In a recorded voice-over narration, we learn that it’s now the eve of Monty’s execution.  He decides to admit to all and begins his story, which he titles A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. ...In this national touring production of the hit Broadway musical, the eight family members, both men and women of the D’Ysquith family, are all played with great success by John Rapson...The murders Monty commits are comically staged, aided with the never-ending visual invention of Aaron Rhyne’s back screen projection that help illustrate the cause of each character’s demise....Alexander Dodge’s scenic design on the music hall stage within a stage is forever attention-grabbing ...The plot driven show is crammed with incident that makes this two hour, twenty minute production fly by, though the book isn’t perfect.  It lets itself down somewhat in the second half ...
a great evening’s entertainment of good humor, inventive staging, grand voices and clever songs.  If recent modern fare such as Rent or Green Day’s American Idiot leaves you wondering whatever happened to uncomplicated storytelling and the American musical, then this show is yours.  A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is that rarity – a new musical with a score inspired from a theatrical style of the past that will forever remain timeless.  And it’s so much fun."  " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder... is one of the cleverest musicals of the last decade....a sheer delight. The national tour... is definitely not to be missed. What if you were born poor...only to find out that your mother was actually a disinherited member of an influential and extremely wealthy family who rebuffed her when she married for love and not money? And what if you also discovered that only eight members of the family stand between you and the head of the dynasty? That's what happens to Monty Navarro in 1909 London and, once Monty finds himself snubbed by the family as well, he makes it his mission to bump off those eight members so he can get back at the family for what they did to his mother and become Lord of the D'Ysquith family....Robert L. Freedman's book is sharp, smart, and fast paced. The well-crafted tunes with music by Steven Lutvak and lyrics by Freedman and Lutvak are full of witty wordplay, delicious double-entendres, a range of musical styles, and exceptional phrasing....The fun theatrical conceit that the show uses is to have one actor play all members, both male and female, of the D'Ysquith family who stand between Monty and his goal. ...the requirements to make this all work in a fast-paced musical require a skilled comic actor and some speedy costume changes. John Rapson excels in the tour de force nature of this request, distinguishing each role with nuance and a huge dose of comedy...if you didn't check your program you may not realize until the curtain call that the entire family is being played by one man. Kevin Massey is also tasked with a herculean effort—to portray a man we all root for as he goes about killing a series of people who didn't really do anything wrong. The fact that he shines as Monty is due to the combination of his assured portrayal and his lovable demeanor. ...Director Darko Tresnjak's inventively skilled contributions show why he deservedly won the Tony for his direction of this show. He cleverly uses Alexander Dodge's beautiful, eye-popping set design...his deft touch ensures the elaborate story, with its succession of characters, remains clear. The colorful, exquisite and detailed costumes justifiably won the Tony Award for Linda Cho, and Philip S. Rosenberg's lighting design adds plenty of allure as well as a few comical touches to the show. Dan Moses Schreier's crisp sound design and Gammage's new sound system make sure that every lyric can be heard with extreme clarity. With equal parts silliness and wit, a charming book and exceptional score, and sharp creative elements, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder is a musical treat to be savored. With a gifted cast and creative elements on par with the Tony winning New York production, the national tour is exceptional."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

COMING SOON --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"... “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” ...is such a thoroughgoing romp that there’s not a single thing to complain about. ...Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey)...discovers that his late mother...was actually an heiress of the aristocratic D’Ysquith family...he hatches a plan to get revenge by knocking off eight of her snooty kinfolk so he can become Earl of Highhurst. If you don’t bother to look at the program ...it might take several numbers to notice the show’s crowd-pleasing gimmick, which is that all eight ...are played by a single actor, John Rapson....The cast is superb, both as comic actors and as singers....Kristen Beth Williams is alluringly devilish as Sibella...Adrienne Eller is endearingly quirky as his newfound (kissing) cousin, Phoebe, hitting ravishing high notes that could probably shatter glass. The score, by Steven Lutvak...tuneful with plenty of complex counterpoint...Lutvak shares credit for the lyrics with book writer Robert L. Freedman, and the results of their collaboration are spot on, with lots of witty quips and a satisfying surprise ending. While “Gentleman’s Guide” may be too much of a pastiche to call a masterpiece, it is nonetheless masterfully done."  - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

What an absolutely and utterly engaging and rollicking good time is A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER..Propelling that rooftop to delirious heights is a sterling ensemble, featuring the jet-fueled performances of John Rapson and Kevin Massey; the fun- and pun-infused lyrics of Steven Lutvak's and Robert Freedman's score, conveyed with brio under the musical direction of Lawrence Goldberg; Alexander Dodge's majestic period set; and Aaron Rhyne's uber-creative special effects...Beyond funny how casually Monty (played with extraordinary energy, boyish charm, and personality by Massey) eases into homicide and summarily disposes of each impediment to earldom! Entitlement, its name is Monty, and his appetite is boundless! ...You can't help but love Monty, thanks to Massey. Hilarious and awe-inspiring how Rapson character-shifts, endowing each of the eight victims with distinctive affect and manner, and demonstrating a versatility that is...what other word can there be but...magnificent! ...the kind of classic comedy laced with rapier-like delivery that locks one's lip into an unmovable smile until they break into hearty guffaws...." -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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