Gwen Reyes // Critic
About twenty minutes into THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER our hero, Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey), starts to feel the thrill of killing for what he thinks is the greater good: his right to an inheritance. He makes his way through each family member of the D’Ysquith Family (John Rapson) who stands in his way to the Dukedom. Having just found out his birthright, Monty stops at nothing to eliminate any obstacle that keeps him from making a new name for himself, marrying well, and paving a path out of the poverty he experienced. Despite THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER taking place in turn of the century England, the feeling within the musical is incredibly American – making dreams reality takes ambition, grit, and ruthlessness.
The 2014 “Tony” winner for Best Musical arrived in Dallas last Tuesday for a two-week engagement at the Winspear Opera House. Dark musicals are often a challenge, but this piece is something special. Between Massey’s Monty exuding sexual appeal and a devilish unraveling that is just too delicious and Rapson’s impressive turn as every member of the D’Ysquith family, the musical is a non-stop joy.
A plot as simple as THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER allows the actors and songs to take center stage. All Monty Navarro wants is what he believes is owed to him: the right to a Dukedom that is eight people away from him. While he embeds himself into the D’Ysquith family (and into the heart of his cousin’s heart) he quietly kills off the men (and woman) sitting in royal succession. He’s twisted, but completely loveable. Why not cheer on the most ambitious man in England.
As a whole the musical is light, fun and spunky. It’s been almost a year since THE BOOK OF MORMON stopped by the Winspear so Dallas audiences have been thirsty for a light comedy with a dark edge. THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER is just that show and any musical lover looking for something to twist that frown upside down can chuckle along with Monty and the D’Ysquith Family.
THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER plays in Dallas at the Winspear Opera House until Sunday, August 28th. Tickets are still available.