Music & Lyrics by Steven Lutvak
Choreographed by Peggy Hickey
Directed by Darko Tresnjak
Produced by Broadway In Chicago
At The Bank of America Theatre, Chicago
Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
The first “Great”musical comedy mystery of the 21st Century is A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Upon entering The Bank of America Theatre, we are impressed by the vivid red set that hints at the old British theatres in early 20th Century. Once the show begins with the smartly hilarious “A Warning to the Audience” we realize that we’re in for a fun night of musical comedy. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is the funniest, most expertly crafted and fine-tuned musical comedy to grace a Chicago stage in years. Based on the 1949 film “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” starring Alec Guinness, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is a hoot that contains one super-crafted scene after another that exposes and mocks the wealthy and privileged in Edwardian England. With the wit similar to Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward, semi-operatic music in the tradition of Gilbert & Sullivan, and staging like The Mystery of Edwin Drood, as well as British music hall elements, A Gentleman’s Guide uses the full talent of book writer Robert L. Freedman and composer/lyricist Steven Lutvak. Add the exquisitely detailed staging by director Darko Tresnjak and we have an absorbing, energetic, and totally engaging musical comedy!
This zany musical, set in London in 1909, tells the wacky story of Monty Navarro ( the lovable killer Kevin Massy), a distant heir to a family fortune who is eighth in line to head the D’Ysquith family, and decides to, by any means necessary, become head of the clan. We see him in many hilarious scenes as he finds ways to eliminate the D’Ysquiths in his way. John Rapson is fabulous in wildly imaginative turns as the D’Ysquith clan. From being Lord Adalbert, to Reverend Lord Ezekial, to Lord Asquith, Sr., to Henry, to Lady Hyacinth, to Major Lord Bartholomew, to Lady Salome, Rapson demonstrates his acting and comic chops as he quickly morphs into unique British gentry folks from the D’Ysquith family. The subplot finds Monty juggling his lover Sibella (Kristen Beth Williams) with his determined distant relative Phoebe (Adrienne Eller), who is determined to marry Monty.
Peppered throughout this fun musical are witty songs such as “I Don’t Understand the Poor,” “Poison in my Pocket, ” ” Better With A Man,” and the terrifically staged song “I’ve Decided to Marry You.,” A Gentleman’s Guide… score is funny, tuneful, and satirical that Gilbert & Sullivan would admire it.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is a tightly woven mystery musical comedy that is flawlessly staged, with even the smallest detail cleverly designed and superbly executed. The laughs abound, the dripping satire is smartly presented, and the general silliness in the British tradition works marvelously. I was so blown away by the creative skill and the perfect execution of the scenes to garner all the comic elements contained that I declared that A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is an instant classic – that it belongs on my list of the 25 Greatest Musical of All-Time as #26! I can’t recall seeing a more captivating Musical since The Producers. This is a “must see” show. Hurry, you only have until October 11 to catch is remarkably funny show. You’ll see why it won 4 Tony Awards
At The Bank of america Theatre 18 W. Monroe, Chicago, IL call800-775-2000, www.broadwayinchicago.com, tickets $25 to $123, Tuesdays at 7:30 pm, Wednesdays at 2& 7:30 pm, Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2& 7:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through October 11, 2015