A tasteful blend of a conniving murderer who makes the path to felony an entertaining and merry one … perhaps ‘merry’ isn’t quite the right word.
The first act opens with a warning:
“This is a tale of an ancient retribution – so if you’re smart, before we start, you’d best depart.”
I did not depart. But I did laugh, for 2 hours, nearly. I was never really won over by murderers (who ever is, really), but this one stole my laughs, my tears, and my #1 placement for favorite musical character. (He also stole the lives of 8 other people, unfortunately for them). Meet Monty Navarro!
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is a witty, British-humored musical that focuses on distant heir Monty Navarro seeking to take his spot as the next Earl of Highhurst…at the expense of 8 heirs before his turn of succession. This is a brilliant musical where one man (Jefferson Mays) played all doomed heirs craftily murdered by Monty in hilarious scenarios.
When Monty isn’t dealing with the genius dilemma of ridding the heirs, he is split between two lovers – D’Ysquith cousin Phoebe and passionate (albeit a tad superficial) Sibella, and this plays out in a beautifully sung trio of the three, all connected through nothing but perpetual opening and slamming of doors, in the score “I’ve Decided to Marry You.”Monty’s heart (and quite possibly men all over the world) is presented to us very openly:
“Phoebe, noble and pious, my esteem for her only grows… But when I’m with Phoebe, I am on fire thinking of Sibella, full of desire, passion and dare I say it love, but when I’m with Sibella whom do I admire not but Phoebe … round and round and round it goes”
The second act opens with my personal favorite song: “Why Are All The D’Ysquiths Dying,” as the chorus of mourners satirically complain about their frustration of remembering who died how and where and their required dark fashion for the repeating occasion.
“I’m utterly exhausted keeping track, but most of all I’m sick of wearing black!”
But who wouldn’t complain about that?
Monty Navarro’s light-hearted and child-like audacity is charming, drawing in the audiences’ inevitable love for this character, in spite lack of morals. Funnily enough, throughout the musical, I found myself secretly hoping he’d succeed as he devised foul methods of murder, and cheering him on each time he was one step closer to becoming Earl of Highhurst. With a combination of clever scores and ridiculous characters, I can’t see how anyone would not enjoy the brilliance of this bloody hilarious musical.
It has happened. British satire is officially my favorite.
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