Friday, January 8, 2016

A Minxy, Mustachio-ed Murder

Murder is a joyous mashup of Clue meets Gilbert and Sullivan

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Murder is everywhere these days. Between Serial Season 1, the Robert Galbraith novels and Making of a Murderer, it seems completely inescapable. 

So it's a good thing that Broadway channeled their inner Capote and produced A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, the 2014 Best Musical at the Tony's and currently showing at the State Theatre. 
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Murder follows the story of Monty Navarro, the son of a disinherited member of the esteemed (and extremely wealthy) D'Ysquith family. After Monty's mother dies, he determines to regain his place in the D'Ysquith family, elevating his place in society and wreaking revenge on the people who had been so cruel to his mother. The only trouble is that in order to access any of the D'Ysquith's funds, he must kill all eight prior heirs first. 

The rest of the show follows Monty's (successful) efforts to do just that, and his tangled love affairs along the way. Monty's unrequited love is for Sibella, who marries a rich man before Monty gains his fortune, but his wife is Phoebe, who elevates his stature among the D'Ysquiths. 
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust. 
If you like dry humor, dark humor, or snobby British anything, this is the show for you. Murder makes the absolute most of every stereotype you can think of, and it's hilarious if you're in on the joke. This goes right down to the sets and costumes, which feature singing statues and paintings, elaborate dinner parties and ships, corseted matrons, and as many side-whiskers as you could possibly wish for. 

Musical highlights are comedic songs, including the love triangle featured in "I've Decided to Marry You," ├╝ber-colonial "Lady Hyacinth Abroad," and Boer-focused (remember the Boer War?) "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun."
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Heavy hitting cast member of the year is obviously John Rapson, who plays each member of the D'Ysquith family murdered in Monty's pursuit of lineage. Many of his characters are average, but a few, such as Lady Hyacinth and especially Lord Adalbert, are deliciously disturbed and keep Murder's heavy plot swimming in a lighthearted atmosphere. 

As Monty, Kevin Massey falls a little flat. He's just fine, but not a standout. Kirsten Beth Williams is much more entertaining as Monty's love interest Sibella, with a Kate Beaton-esque delivery to her performance. Adrienne Eller has a perfectly prim delivery for Monty's wife Phoebe, and is reminiscent of Megan Mullally.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is perfect for anyone who has a little too much steampunk in their lives, avidly reads Kate Beaton's comics, or has a general fondness for the British Empire's days of yore. There are many U.K. witticisms to be found here, and it's sure to be a hit. Check out ticket and show information by clicking on this link