- OnStage Massachusetts Critic
My husband and I decided to treat ourselves to a dinner and a show in Providence this weekend. (And by my husband and I, I mean I said I want to see this show and he said OK. He’s great like that.) What I knew about A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (forever abbreviated to AGGTLAM cause DAMN that’s a long title) came from their performance at the Tony Awards in 2014. So not much which is rare for me.
A quick bit about the venue. Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC- us New Englanders love abbreviations!) is a gorgeous venue. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. We were up in the balcony but only a couple rows back, just to the left of center. I always sacrifice height if I can be closer to center, FYI.
The set backdrops were minimal and they made excellent use of a projection system for some of the background elements. The show utilizes a stage on a stage which at first I was wary about but ended up loving. The show itself is so tongue-in-cheek that having the stage on a stage added to the fun. Costumes were exactly in keeping with the time period- very richly colored, luxurious to look at and I wanted all of Phoebe’s hats. I love hats. Why don’t Americans where more hats? Anyway.
The story line centers on Monty Navarro who discovers that his recently deceased mother was actually a member of the D’Ysquith family making Monty 9th in line for the Earldom. Monty however would prefer to be a little closer to the top, and begins picking off family members one by one.
It’s quite a small cast and everyone pulls their weight. The four main leads especially were superb. My husband and I were torn over which of the female leads we enjoyed more, the character of Phoebe (my husband’s favorite) or Sibella (my favorite). One of the highlights vocally for me was the song, “I’ve Decided to Marry You” featured on the 2014 Tony Awards telecast. The two women were in perfect sync vocally and choreographically as they sang about their love for Monty. Monty was equally delightful bouncing between his two women.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a performer and I know the magic that has to take place behind the scenes for everything to run so smoothly on stage but I thought the actual standout performance went not to any of the actors (all quite good) but to those responsible for dressing John Rapson who plays every character in the D’Ysquith family save Phoebe. There were several changes including hair, teeth, and makeup executed in seconds. I counted. After John took his well-deserved bow I found myself wanting the dressers to come out to have their moment in the spotlight!
In short, if AGGTLAM comes to a city near you go. It’s a delightful romp that will amuse you and leave you looking over your shoulder lest any 8th or 9th cousins twice removed try to pick you off on their way towards an Earldom.