REVIEW: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER is a spunky little musical, a Tony winner for Best Musical, and an entertaining diversion this week at the Aronoff Center.  It runs just through Sunday, curiously enough, so be sure to grab your tickets now.  It’s a good time.

Monty, or formally Montague D’Ysquith Navarro, narrates this story. It’s his story, really, as he learns of his ties to a royal family.  Ambition takes over and he chronicles his rise to the royal estate through love and murder in humorous fashion.  Monty is played by the incredibly engaging Kevin Massey.  Without his charisma, charm, and effervescent personality, the show would not work.  The things Monty does – two-timing women, committing outrageous acts of murder – are so heinous, yet the actor is so likable we can’t help but root for him anyway.  It’s remarkable, really.

Also crucial is the actor who plays multiple members of the D’Ysquith family.  John Rapson is absolutely hilarious as he embodies multiple characters, all over the top in their own way, and all very different from each other.  His quick costume changes are stage-magical; his hilarity infectious.

In fact, the cast from top to bottom is wonderful.  There’s not a bad performance in the bunch.  Kristen Hahn as Phoebe and Kristen Beth Williams as Sibella both shine as love interests of Monty; but my favorite performance of the night was that of Kristen Mengelkoch (identical twin sister of one of Cincinnati’s best actresses, Kelly Mengelkoch) who stole Act Two as Lady Eugenia.  What a treat.

The music is lovely, if not hummable.  The comedy precise, even when its broad.  And the video projections and use of the set is cost-effective but never cheap looking.

While probably not going to set any box office records, this is a fun night out.  It’s worth a look.

A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER plays through Sunday at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Downtown Cincinnati.  Tickets are available here.