One of my birthday gifts this year was a ticket to see A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER on Broadway yesterday. I’ll admit it, when I first heard about GGLAM (as it’s abbreviated) I wasn’t too interested. Then I saw their Tony performance and was completely sold.
In a nutshell: British nobody Monty Navarro (Bryce Pinkham) finds out that he is a long-lost member of one of the wealthiest families around, the D’Ysquiths. Unfortunately, eight members of the family stand before him in the way of the fortune, so he decides to dispose of them all, one by one. Along the way, he gets caught up in a love triangle between his longtime crush Sibella (Lisa O’Hare), who is married, and his distant cousin (!!) Phoebe D’Ysquith (Lauren Worsham). In a trick reminiscent of LITTLE ME and SPAMALOT, one very gifted actor (Jefferson Mays) gets the tour-de-force task of playing every D’Ysquith, both the men and the women.
This is done to fabulous results in the Broadway production because Jefferson Mays is so skilled at it. He slips seamlessly from character to character and is totally committed to each one. A Tony nominee for his performance, he may very well have taken home the prize if this weren’t Neil Patrick Harris’s year. My favorite members of the eccentric D’Ysquith clan were the warmongering Lord Adalbert and charity-bringing spinster Lady Hyacinth. Both get terrific numbers- “I Don’t Understand the Poor” and “Lady Hyacinth Abroad,” respectively.
While this is clearly a star-making performance for Mays, the supporting cast was great, too. As murderous Monty, Bryce Pinkham is suave and earnest enough to make you like his character despite the terrible things he does. And as his two love interests, Lisa O’Hare and Lauren Worsham play off each other very nicely and wore gorgeous costumes. The three of them also stop the show (so to speak) with “I’ve Decided to Marry You,” which not coincidentally was the show’s Tony performance.
The one really negative point of the show, I must confess, was that some of the actors’ British accents were so warbled that they bordered on incomprehensible. This is especially bad in a show where the exposition is so important. Furthermore, I have to add- as amusing and fresh as this musical is, IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE. I cannot stress this enough. To properly appreciate GGLAM, you need to have a taste for dry humor, black comedy, period pieces, and Marriage of Figaro-style plots. If you don’t, you probably will not enjoy this show.
That said, I DO have a taste for those things, so for me, A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER was a sparkling afternoon at the theatre, infused with enough macabre and fun to keep me interested in what would happen next.