Facebook Twitter

‘Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’ national tour heads to Kingsbury Hall

SHARE ‘Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’ national tour heads to Kingsbury Hall

SALT LAKE CITY — When “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” opened on Broadway in 2013, critics and the press heralded it as “a superbly crafted musical” and credited it with “restoring our faith in musical comedy.”

Four Tony Awards and three years later, the 2014 winner for best musical is setting up shop in Salt Lake City.

“We’ve had great reception so far,” said actress Adrienne Eller, who plays Phoebe D’Ysquith, speaking over the phone from Denver. “We’ve had such a great time traveling and going city to city making audiences all over the country laugh. It’s great!”

“Gentleman’s Guide” is the classic tale of an inheritance at stake, with a man, in this case, Monty Navarro, a few degrees away from inheriting the lump sum. So, he does what many a character would do: He plots to kill the relatives who stand in his way.

“I would say there’s really nothing else like it,” Eller said. “It’s a murder musical comedy. The writing is not only Tony Award-winning, it’s some of the best — so witty, clever and fast. The language is heightened. A lot of the songs are fast-paced because it’s the characters thinking out loud. … The comedy is dark, but it’s fast-paced and a bit more slapstick.”

Eller noted there are plenty of beautiful, lyrical songs as well.

But the real tour de force is actor John Rapson, who takes on many roles as Monty Navarro’s family.

“John plays all eight of the family members,” Eller said. “They range from women to very old men, and they’re outlandish, crazy characters, and they make the show what it is.”

With the help of his trusted dresser, Nadine, Rapson frenzies his way through onstage high jinks mixed with quick offstage costume changes.

“His fastest change is 17 seconds,” Eller said. “He and Nadine do the change so seamlessly and gracefully, he even has time for a drink of water before going back onstage.

“His changes are so good that sometimes people don’t realize that he is playing every character,” she continued. “Sometimes people go through the whole show and have not known that all of those characters are played by one guy.”

The musical’s original director, Darko Tresnjak — who won not only the Tony Award for best direction but also the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for the Broadway production — is also at the helm for this national tour.

“Our director and choreographer (Peggy Hickey) are masterminds of comedy,” Eller said. “There’s a number in Act 2, ‘I’ve Decided to Marry You,’ and it’s calculated down to the inch of where our feet are and where our fingers are and how our heads move. It’s so rehearsed, and that’s what makes the comedy land.”

Eller joins Rapson and the rest of the Actors' Equity Association cast as the youngest member. She graduated from NYU just last spring, and this role is her first big job.

“I’m the youngest, and it’s been such a blessing,” she said. “I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned about being consistent, doing the show eight times a week for 12 months or longer. And I’ve learned so much through my castmates. There are so many seasoned actors who’ve had great careers; I’m trying to emulate their professional grace.”

For now, her focus is staying healthy.

“Salt Lake is high in altitude just like Denver,” she said. “We all have humidifiers in our hotel rooms and in the theater. We drink tons of water and tea. But we’re having such a blast.”

She described the show as one “not to be missed”:

“It’s a jewel box of a musical, and we’re so excited to share it with Salt Lake City.”

Content advisory: According to a representative from MagicSpace Entertainment, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” includes adult themes such as adultery and murder but has no sexually explicit material or blatant violence. The show is recommended for ages 10 and up.

If you go ...

What: "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" national tour

When: March 1-6, times vary, matinees available

Where: Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle

How much: $32.50-$82.50

Web: magicspace.net

Erica Hansen was the theater editor at the Deseret News for more than three years. An area performer, she was also the original host of the radio program "Showtune Saturday Night."