“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” plays through March 24 at Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: vintagetheatre.com, 303-856-7830. Free parking.
Vintage Theatre looks like a large Edwardian Valentine this month, with three small stages, each draped with puffy red satin drapes.
Action in nearly 20 different scenes pops between stages, with some all-company song and dance numbers staged on the floor in front of these nifty little windows.
The Tony-winning musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” by Robert Freedman (book and lyrics) and Steven Lutvak (music and lyrics), traces the journey of one Monty Navarro, who learns after his mother’s funeral (she had married a Castilian musician for love and the family disowned her) that there are eight relatives ahead of him and the title of Earl of Highhurst, the D’ysquith family’s top spot, with the accompanying manor house, money and lifestyle. Hmm! Miss Shingle, a friend of his late, lamented mother, informs him of this good fortune and encourages him to go for it!
One can see a light go on in talented young actor Andy Seracuse’s eyes as he romps into the Monty role.
He tries to romance blonde, self-centered Sibella (Anne Jennes), who seeks a rich suitor — she reminds him that there are only eight family members in the way — and his mind kicks into a different gear.
This bit of supreme silliness was written after someone unearthed a 1907 novel by Roy Horniman: “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal.” I’m happy that it made its way to the Broadway stage …
One can’t help but think of Gilbert and Sullivan’s witty look at British society as we learn of the D’Ysquiths’ foibles — well characterized by Lord Adalbert and chorus, singing “I Don’t Understand the Poor.”
Monty applies for a job at a D’Ysquith-run bank and is ungraciously turned down, so he begins a career of another sort.
First family member to depart is an elderly clergyman, who clumsily climbs the church tower to show it to Monty. Then we have the unfortunate beekeeper, pursued across stage many times by a swarm …
“Poison in My Pocket,” Monty warbles with Miss Barley and Asquith Jr.
At times, Monty and the audience visit the D’Ysquith manor house (the center stage) with its stone walls and framed portraits of wigged predecessors — wait — did that couple just speak?
Director Bernie Cardell’s staging throughout is clever and hilarious — pay close attention or you may miss some bit of silliness.
Actor Brandon Bill takes on the yeoman job of portraying almost all the D’Ysquith family members, including Lady Hyacinth, who is encouraged to travel off to Egypt. Monty hints of a need for a “modern-day Cleopatra …” He also remarks aside that a revolution is underway.
Female family member Phoebe D’Ysquith (Katie Jackson) is attracted to Monty and warbles that she’s decided to marry him — adding another complication to Monty’s scene — which doesn’t flap him a bit!
Readers who decide to head over to the Vintage Theatre in Aurora will want to abandon logic and just sit back and chuckle as this totally entertaining saga unfolds in its first Denver production.
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