Paco Takes A Shot At “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder”

Who would’ve ever thought that murder was funny? It never is…unless you’re watching A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder.

I saw this production last night at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and was slayed at the presentation.

Barely two years removed from winning four Tony awards, including Best Musical, this extravaganza of plotting, planning and scheming how to do away with people standing between you and fame, fortune, power, and royalty takes a “tongue firmly planted in cheek” look at how to commit the perfect crimes and NOT get caught.

The story takes place in 1907, when Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey), the surviving son of an English washerwoman discovers that his mother was actually in the bloodline of royalty and is cast out when she marries a Spaniard, and even worse…a Spanish musician.  [sidebar…nothing wrong with that…in high school, I was a “Spanish musician”]

Monty learns that he is eighth in line to become an earl. The Earl of Highhurst. So he sets out to slaughter everyone between himself and his “rightful” title.

Quite frankly, the stage performances were to die for!

So, I was trying to single out a “star” to place in the spot light…however, it’s difficult when the ensemble cast is so talented.

But, if I had to find that ONE shining star in the Central Florida night sky, it would have to be John Rapson, who plays (believe it or not) eight characters. Certainly that’s not to take anything away from the other cast members who more than held their own, but Mr. Rapson brought each character fully to life (and then on to death).

Despite knowing that Mr. Rapson is playing multiple characters, you more than accept it because of the amount of flair, individual idiosyncrasies and nuances that he creates with each personality. Whether it’s a laugh, a walk, or a talk…you suspend disbelief due to his stellar performances.
The ensemble cast brings wonderful vocal harmonies, range, and angelic tones trigger emotions, draw you in and make you wish you knew the lyrics so you could sing along.

Along his journey to Earldom, Monty has an ongoing fling with Sibella Hallward (Kristen Beth Williams), a kind of “side piece” that he continues to see through his escapades, even while planning to marry Phoebe D’Ysquith (Kristen Hahn).

Monty’s adventures are hysterical in how he executes his murders. Surprisingly, as he nears his goal, a sudden twist in his plans lands him in a predicament that makes you question who else is (unbeknownst to Monty) involved in his plan. Unknowingly, his ally is someone you’d likely least expect.

This may be a shot in the dark, though I doubt it…

When you leave the Dr. Phillips, you’ll want to thank me for suggesting you see A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder.

These guys quite literally killed it!

“A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder” is playing at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday, February 12th.  For tickets, click the link here.


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