Stage West Calgary (Review) A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Review by Sue Methuen
Book and Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman Music and Lyrics by Steven Lutvak Director & Musical Staging: Mark Bellamy Musical Director: Konrad Pluta
You would think that a musical around love and murder would make for a rather gloomy experience whereas “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” is quite the opposite – witty, fun-filled and humorous.
The play begins in 1909 when the new Earl of Highhurst, Lord Montague (Monty) D’Ysquith Navarro (played by Sayer Roberts) is in a jail cell writing his memoirs on the eve of what may be his execution. As he reminisces about the events leading up to this moment, we are transported back two years to the time when it all began.
Monty is in his London flat mourning the loss of his mother, a poor washerwoman. Without a father, a good name or any prospects, his future looks bleak. Suddenly, an old woman and friend of his mother’s arrives to inform Monty that he is actually a member of the aristocratic D’Ysquith family and is, in fact, eighth in line to inherit the earldom. The old woman explains that his mother was disowned by her father after marrying Monty’s father for love.
Feeling quite revengeful towards his upper-class family who caused him and his mother to live a life of poverty, a murderous plan soon unfolds in Monty’s mind. All this happens while he attempts to balance a love interest with two very different women – the sexy, social climbing Miss Sibella Hallword (played by Kate Blackburn) and the demure, aristocratic Miss Phoebe D'Ysquith (played by Ellen Denny). Monty’s murderous deeds often occur by pure chance - some even a surprise to him! The delightful twist at the end is a fun conclusion to a lighthearted show.
A number of cast members play multiple roles throughout the musical. The most entertaining by far is Tyler Murree who plays the Earl of Highhurst as well as every other person in line to the earldom, both male and female. This results in his being in numerous death scenes, most of which are quite hilarious.
There are multiple set changes throughout the performance, and actors cleverly transition between each set by performing in front of the closed curtains making use of all areas available. The backdrop of the main stage is enhanced by a large screen displaying various digital background images. Lighting is quite effective in keeping the audience focused on a particular actor during a scene, sometimes with the other actors either “frozen” in time or moving in slow motion.
Music is upbeat and lively, adding to the fun of the experience. Songs are clever, witty and add to the levity of the play. At times it was difficult to understand the words being sung, perhaps due to English accents, the high pitch and, at times, too loud music. We would have enjoyed the performance more if we were able to understand all the words to the songs.
The variety of costumes and wigs added to the overall experience. Sibella’s “over the top” pink, frilly dresses were spot on for her character as were Phoebe’s elegant and stately gowns.
I encourage others to take in this fun and entertaining musical. It runs from April 19 to June 23, 2019 at Stage West Calgary. Tickets can be purchased at www.stagewestcalgary.com.
Synopsis: When the low-born Monty Navarro finds out that he’s eighth in line for an earldom in the lofty D’Ysquith family, he figures his chances of outliving his predecessors are slight and sets off down a far more ghoulish path. Can he knock off his unsuspecting relatives without being caught and become the second Earl of Highhurst? And what of love? Because murder isn’t the only thing on Monty’s mind.
Stage West Dinner Theatre features great food, great service and great entertainment... all in one location. Their 400 seat theatre is ramped and tiered, offering easy access and an excellent view of the stage from all locations. Stage West's sumptuous 120 item buffet is included with each performance.