If you were to look up "delightful" in the dictionary, I wouldn't be surprised if the 2014 Tony Award winning musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder provided an exemplification of the word.
In an an action-packed 2.5 hours, we follow the wholly fictional (and highly entertaining) tale of Monty Navarro -- a penniless and long-lost descendant of the D'Ysquith family. Monty (played by the charming Kevin Massey) determines that to claim his rightful position as the Ninth Earl of Highhurst (and to reclaim the attention of his class-obsessed love Sibella played by the radiant Kristen Beth Williams), he must off his successors -- all of whom, both male and female, are tackled by the nimble and knee-slappingly outrageous John Rapson. Along the way, he captures the heart of the fiercely loyal and lovely Phoebe D' Ysquith (a pitch-perfect Adrienne Eller), which proves bothersome for the sidelined Sibella.
Antics and assassinations ensue.
It's been a long time since a show has charmed me as much as Gentleman. And this first-rate national tour, which is playing at the Bank of America Theatre through October 11, offers a night of frivolity, deadpan humor and surprising sophistication -- particularly in the faux-operatic score by Robert L. Freedman (lyrics) and Steven Lutvak (music and lyrics). I dare you not to get this song out of your head.
Physically, the production enchants. Sets by Alexander Dodge play up the British pantomime tone and offer some fun visual gags, and Linda Cho's costumes make us long for a time when cravats and bustles where part of the everyday. Darko Tresnjak's crisp direction keeps things ticking along, but without sidelining the heart of the story.
Sure, this show could be written off as mindless fluff, but I argue that the very best fluff requires brains and wit to maintain its buoyancy. And this show does such with panache and polish.
"A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" plays through October 11 at the Bank of America Theatre. More info here >