Murder was never this funny


Oh that charming Edwardian sociopath Monty Novarro who kills his relatives in imaginative ways for a title. But the knock offs are so ridiculously funny, you actually cheer for him. Kind of.

You will cheer for The Gateway’s entire exquisitely paced musical romp, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” between belly laughs and applause.

Monty is avenging his mother’s death and the fact that she was actually a titled D’Ysquith, revealed by an old friend, Miss Shingle. Rebuked and left penniless by her family when she married Monty’s Castilian musician dad, it spurs Monty on to claim his lineage and an earlship. But he has to go through eight victims.
Trust us: You won’t feel sorry for them; most are horrible snobs.
Each scene has its own hilarious take. The knock off of elderly Reverend Lord Ezekial D’Ysquith from the summit of his church is a glorious presentation of farce.

Monty could have saved him from teetering off, but heck, what an opportunity after he won’t put in a good word to the rellies. No one would suspect this doddering pastor who spits when he talks was murdered with a push. The projection of the church tower in back of the good father as he falls, splat, with blood, is brilliant.
Then there’s Henry, a kind, sort of nature fellow, but nope, he won’t go to Monty’s aid either. Watch what happens when Monty meets Henry's sister, the attractive Phoebe,in the garden while Henry runs for his life with bees swarming. (Monty sprayed lavender cologne around poor Henry, catnip for bees. What a guy.)
James Taylor Odom plays the eight British characters, men and women, who come to their demise, with deliciously perfect and hilarious glee, prancing across the stage, wearing Egyptian headpieces and shrunken heads, charging in an enactment
of the Boer War, singing songs. He doesn’t miss a beat and is an energetic, dazzling wonder. The patter is so delicious and smart, you wonder where these words came from.

Blake Price as Monty has the challenging role of presenting a smart, poor guy who takes to dastardly deeds. But he makes you like him, in spite of…murder. He’s amazing in presenting an innocence and a conscience. Sometimes. So you kind of get his revenge motive, not an easy thing. It’s called skilled acting. And singing.

Gail Bennett as Sibella Hallward and Kelley Dorney as Phoebe D’Ysquith, Monty’s love interests are fabulous. They both hanker for Monty. Sibella is shallow and selfish, but passionate, Phoebe is kind, intelligent and sympathetic. Their voices, which hit the high notes, are amazing and they play their roles to the hilt. Hey, nefarious, handsome guys are attractive.

Enough can’t be said about the ensemble. They pop out singing from family portraits. As the help, they run from Major Bartholomew D’Ysquith during dinner as he re-enacts war scenes. Sometimes they’re in the deepest jungle. They wink or convey their chagrin to the audience. Talk about comedic operatic pipes, they are super. And kudos to the orchestra for keeping the music rapturously going as people died.

Peggy Hickey, the original Broadway choreographer for this show and now director and choreographer, brought the set from Broadway and it’s sumptuous.
There’s a reason this musical won four Tony awards and had a good Broadway run.
But high praise to Hickey and everyone involved in this wonderful romp, for bringing this production to The Gateway. It’s playing now to Dec. 4.


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