"A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER," through March 6, Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle (broadway-at-the-eccles.com or 801-355-2787); running time: two hours, 30 minutes (one intermission)
SALT LAKE CITY — It’s funny, it’s quick, it’s clever and it’s wonderfully fresh. “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” is the real deal.
The phrase “Broadway quality” or “Broadway caliber” is bandied about so often, and more times than not, it is a term used quite loosely. Not in this case. The current national tour of this Tony Award-winning musical is of Broadway caliber in its truest sense — from the performances to the costumes and set design.
“Gentleman’s Guide” is about poor, broke Monty Navarro, who learns he is an heir to the D’Ysquith family fortune. He sets out to jump the line of succession by eliminating the eight other relatives standing in his way.
The musical opened on Broadway in 2013 and won Tonys for not only best musical but also best director for Darko Tresnjak — who worked on this touring production — best book (Robert L. Freedman) and best costume design (Linda Cho).
Cho’s costumes are rich in texture and accurate for the show's setting in 1909 England. The musical takes place in many locales, and the set handles it marvelously, keeping the pacing as brisk as the dialogue. The LED screen works; oftentimes, they are used as a cost-effective way to avoid backdrops and they leave a show feeling flat and stark. But not in “Gentleman’s,” where the LED screen enhances the other lush scenery.
It is also refreshing to hear a more lyrical score with soaring sopranos and wonderful tenors — to have a break from the current belt-big-or-go-home style that is so common in today’s musicals.
The touring production features a top-notch cast led by John Rapson, who flawlessly plays nine different characters, taking on various costumes, ages and genders. He’s a delight.
Kevin Massey as Navarro is instantly likable — even for a murderer — and his tenor voice is lovely. The two leading ladies, Kristen Beth Williams and Adrienne Eller, are both captivating — Williams with her sultry allure and Eller with a wide-eyed wholesomeness. They are wonderful, and their harmonies and comedic timing are perfect.
There is one scene in Act 2 that is not crisp and features the bickering Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith and his wife, Lady Eugenia. On Wednesday night, their back-and-forths felt over the top and a bit forced.
Still, leave all sensibilities at the door and come prepared to have a good time. This one is a must-see — a Broadway tour in every sense.
Content advisory: Sexual innuendo, murder (comedic decapitations, poisonings, etc.), drinking references and an implied sexual encounter.
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."