By PAM HARBAUGH
Well no wonder it reaped all those awards and all that acclaim. The winner of the 2014 Tony for best musical, A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, on tour now at Dr. Phillips Center, is a positively side-splitting musical done with utter delight.
Based on a 1907 novel by British writer Roy Horniman, the musical was created by Robert L. Freedman (book and lyrics) and Steven Lutvak (music and lyrics). The show takes the classic olde-tyme melodrama style and freshens it with contemporary and an oh-so-clever scenic design to create a thoroughly entertaining show that should shoot to the top of your must-do list.Set in 1909, the story revolves around poor struggling Monty Navarro (a wonderful Kevin Massey), who learns he is a member of the aristocratic D’Ysquith family. In fact, only eight people stand in his way of inheriting the D’Ysquith fortune. So he sets out to eliminate each hurdle. In the meantime, his lover, Sibelia (a coyly bawdy Kristen Beth Williams), marries another man. But no worry, Monty soon falls for Phoebe D’Ysquith (a sublime Kristen Hahn) who has become a widow thanks to Monty. Woven within this are hysterical bits crafted by Darko Tresnjak’s brilliant direction and Alexander Dodge’s remarkable scenic design. Upon this little melodramatic stage you’ll see action evocative of Hitchcock, the Marx Brothers, Gilbert & Sullivan and more.
You’ll also get to enjoy one of the most fulsome stage performances ever: That is the extraordinary John Rapson, who brings divine comic nuance to nine roles.
Linda Cho’s costume design and Philip S. Rosenberg’s lighting design are the final exquisite visual touches. In addition to all this are the marvelous, melodic music, cagey lyrics and gorgeous, elaborate voices. The show positively thrills.
SIDE O’ GRITS: A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER runs through Sunday in the Walt Disney Theatre at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando. Tickets start at $33.75. Call 844.513.2014 or visit DrPhillipsCenter.org.