A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder an enjoyable, laugh-out-loud musical

Writer Caroline Russell-King offers up a Postcard Review of Stage West’s latest production.

Show: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

Playwright/composer: Book and Lyrics Robert L. Freedman, music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak, based on the novel by Roy Horniman.

Production Company/theatre space: Stage West.

Length: Two acts (two and a half hours with one intermission).

Genre(s): Musical (with farcical elements).

Premise : A man who finds out he is eighth in line to a title and fortune decides to eliminate the intervening family lineage, while agonizing over which of the two women in his life he wishes to cavort with.

Why this play? Why now?: It’s always a good time to see a Tony-winning musical.

Curiosities: The three (minor) bumps are the hit and miss of the costume design, a few bumps heard during set changes and the very fleeting thought, “In our politically correct sensibilities, would some bump on the views expressed by Brits during that time period?” We live in such charged times. (Lastly, I also wondered where is the line between choreograph and musical staging?)

Notable lines: “Eight people would have to die for that to happen …”

Notable writing: This award-winning script with over two years on Broadway, national tours and international productions has a slight G&S feel.

Notable performances: Tyler Murree is the gifted buffoon playing a plethora of family members. Sayer Roberts, eastern Canada’s answer to Tyrell Crews, is the comic, conniving con. Both actors make their Stage West débuts – we hope they return.

Notable design/production: David Fraser’s set provides the multiple, music hall-esque backdrops which integrate abstract and “real” projections with cutouts and period pieces. I’m not usually a fan of projected backdrops, but here it works, and the shift in POV for the priest scene is laugh-out-loud funny.

Notable direction:Mark Bellamy is in his element. I’m a huge Neil Simon fan but in this case I heard the ear worm of Carly Simon’s Nobody Does it Better …

One reason to see this show: Eating yummy food and laughing out loud – OK that’s two, but really, it’s a prescription for a lot of things.

(Photo courtesy John Watson Photography.)

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder runs at Stage West until June 23.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here