Archive for Walter Kerr
The critics are clear, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is an irresistible delight, despite its grim title and relatively unknown production team. The musical comedy is based on both a 1907 novel by Roy Horniman and a classic British comedy, “Kind Hearts and Coronets”, starring Alec Guinness. The compliments come in bunches for this production, with critics heaping praise on Broadway newbies Robert L. Freedman (book and lyrics), Steven Lutvak (music and lyrics), and director Darko Tresnjak. Onstage, the excellent ensemble is topped with stand-out performances by Bryce Pinkham (Monty Navarro) and Jefferson Mays, expertly playing all eight of the D’Yysquith heirs on Navarro’s chopping block. The title may be grisly, but this musical comedy is lots of fun and not to be missed — a fitting choice for the whole family, even around the holidays.
NEW YORK TIMES
“Serial killers may be all the rage on bookshelves and television screens — so ubiquitous, you’d think they made up a major demographic of the world population — but they are comparatively rare in the peppier precincts of musical theater. Now, after a long dry spell, Broadway has a deadly sociopath to call its own. Please give a hearty welcome to Monty Navarro, the conniving killer who helps turn murder most foul into entertainment most merry in the new musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
“While the source material credited for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is Israel Rank, an Edwardian novel by Roy Horniman published in 1907, the show’s key inspiration lies in the film adapted from that book, Kind Hearts and Coronets. That wonderful 1949 Ealing Studios black comedy cast the incomparable Alec Guinness as eight English aristocrats standing in the way of a murderous commoner’s noble birthright. The virtuosic comic turn here belongs to Jefferson Mays, taking on dizzyingly quick changes of costume and characterization with hilarious aplomb. But that’s by no means the sole enticement of this toothsome new musical.”
“Many actors would, if you’ll pardon the expression, kill for a great death scene. In A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, the new musical at the Walter Kerr, Jefferson Mays doesn’t have to draw a drop of blood to get more than a half-dozen of them. Bees, freezing-cold water, a heart attack, a gun, and oh so many more implements of destruction give the actor opportunity after opportunity to expire in spectacular, balcony-baiting fashion — oh, and evoke gales of laughter at the same time. That’s the really important part. In fact, it’s tough to remember another Broadway outing since Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore that’s derived so much gleeful entertainment in the hastening of mortality.”
“Overkill has seldom been more enjoyable than in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, a thoroughly delightful and uproarious new Broadway musical about an Edwardian serial killer who could be a well-heeled cousin of Sweeney Todd by way of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves. His name is Monty Navarro (Bryce Pinkham, blessed with a crystalline tenor and the looks of a young Jude Law) and he’ll stop at nothing to avenge his late mother, disinherited by a titled British family for falling in love with the wrong sort. ”My father was ‘Castilian,’ he explains at one point. ‘And worse, a musician.'”
“‘For God’s sake, go!’ warns the black-clad chorus at the top of A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder as they advise the more squeamish patrons who might be shocked at the evening’s gory dramatics to leave immediately. Don’t listen to them or you’ll miss a rollicking good time and a smashing Broadway debut for composer/lyricist Steven Lutvak, bookwriter/lyricist Robert L. Freedman and director Darko Tresnjak.”