A GENTLEMEN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER presented Broadway in Cincinnati through Jan. 8. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
Broadway in Cincinnati kicks off 2017 by welcoming A GENTLEMEN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, winner of four 2014 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical.
Leading the strong cast is John Papson in the multiple, quick-changing roles of the D’Ysquith Family. Papson does well in giving each character their own distinct, bigger-than-life personality and generates laugh after laugh. As Lord Adalbert, he does meet his scene-chewing equal in Lady Eugenia played by Kristen Mengelkoch. Opening night, I struggled to understand Papson in several numbers due to a combination of his character’s accent, plus the volume of the ensemble and orchestra.
Kevin Massey is fun as Monty Navarro, whose confidence increases with every loss in his newly discovered family. Massey has a great singing voice and handles the physical comedy well. I wouldn’t mind him being a bit bigger and more frantic when appropriate throughout the show.
The number “I’ve Decided to Marry You,” where Monty struggles to keep the two women in his life apart (Kristen Beth Williams as Sibella Hallward & Kristen Hahn as Phoebe D’Ysquith) was a personal favorite.
The centerpiece of the set is a raised proscenium stage complete with its own curtain. The piece itself only takes up about 1/3 of the P&G Hall stage, with increasingly larger “punch-outs” of the set reaching to the wings. A rear projection screen is smartly used to create the various locales and provide a bit real-life movement in the “outside” world. Even better, the screen isn’t relied upon for every scene. The versatility of Alexander Dodge’s set design (who was also nominated for a Tony for his Broadway set) is amazing with many hidden surprises that I’ll let you experience for yourself. There were a few times when I felt the cast struggled to move naturally within the confined space.
My one major complaint would be that, with the humor of multiple scenes spiking so big and broad, that often the following scenes would seem almost sedate in comparison, giving the production an uneven feel.
Overall a riotous, bawdy good time at the theater.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
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