Based on the 1907 novel "Israel Rank" by Roy Horniman, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder premiered last season in a co-production by Connecticut's Hartford Stage and the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder will officially open Nov. 17.
Mays (I Am My Own Wife) plays eight roles in the frisky romp about a line of heirs, family money and homicide. "It's like being in a wrestling match," Mays said of his dizzying array of costume and character changes during the performance. "The lights go out, and I'm set upon in the dark by these demon women, who tear my clothes off and put me into another outfit. Initially when I was unsure of how the show was going on—sometimes, you just don't know—I'd step back on stage and never know what's going to happen next. That's the truth. I cannot think past wherever I am. It's a blessing in some ways because, in that way, I’m not contemplating the various hurtles and pitfalls that lie before me. For a while, my dressers would whisper who I was before squirting some water into my mouth and shoving me back on stage. It’s a fun-house ride."
The cast also features Bryce Pinkham (Love's Labour's Lost, Ghost), Lisa O'Hare, Lauren Worsham, Jane Carr, Pamela Bob, Joanna Glushak, Eddie Korbich, Jeff Kready, Mark Ledbetter, Jennifer Smith, Price Waldman and Catherine Walker. Mays, O'Hare, Waldman and Walker were also part of the Hartford Stage-Old Globe Theatre premiere engagements of A Gentleman's Guide.
Here's how the dark musical comedy is billed: "Monty Navarro (Pinkham) has just received some really great news from his late mother’s lifelong friend Miss Shingle (Carr)! He’s a long-lost member of a noble family and could become the next Earl of Highhurst. There are only eight minor issues, namely the other relatives who precede him in line for the title. So Monty does what any ambitious, highborn gentleman would do: he sets out to eliminate them one by one, all while juggling his mistress (O'Hare) (she’s after more than just love), his fiancée (Worsham) (she’s his cousin, but who’s keeping track?), plus the constant threat of landing behind bars! But it will all be worth it if he can slay his way into Highhurst Castle… and be done in time for tea. Each of the eight heirs perilously standing in the way of Monty’s fortune are played by Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays, in one of the most breathtaking, whiplash-inducing performances ever attempted on the American stage."
The design team includes Alexander Dodge (scenic design), Linda Cho (costume design), Philip S. Rosenberg (lighting design), Dan Moses Schreier (sound design), Aaron Rhyne (projection design) and Charles LaPointe (wig design). Orchestrations are by Jonathan Tunick, and vocal arrangements are by Dianne Adams McDowell. Paul Staroba serves as music director.
Freedman (book and lyrics) was nominated for an Emmy Award and a Writers Guild Award for the ABC miniseries "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" starring Judy Davis. He won the Writers Guild Award for HBO's "A Deadly Secret" and was also nominated for ABC's "Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella" starring Brandy and Whitney Houston. He was a finalist for the Humanitas Prize for the GLAAD Award-winning "What Makes a Family." For his musical theatre work with Steven Lutvak, Freedman won the Kleban Award for Outstanding Lyric Writing, the Fred Ebb Award for Musical Theatre Songwriting and the California Musical Theatre Award. Their musical Campaign of the Century has been performed at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and the Chicago Humanities Festival. He is the co-author, with Faye Greenberg, of the one-man play The Beast of Broadway: The Life and Times of David Merrick.
Lutvak (music, lyrics and vocal Arrangements) wrote the title track to Paramount's hit film "Mad Hot Ballroom." Lutvak and Freedman also wrote "Campaign of the Century," which was presented at the Chicago Humanities Festival and the New York Musical Theatre Festival, winning the California Musical Theater Award Competition from the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild. Lutvak's other musicals include The Wayside Motor Inn, Almost September (eight San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards and seven Dramalogue Awards for its West Coast premiere) and Esmeralda, for which he won a New American Works Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His other awards include two Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Grants and the Johnny Mercer Emerging American Songwriter Award. As a singer/songwriter, Lutvak has performed at Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Recital Hall and around the country.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is produced by Joey Parnes, S.D. Wagner, John Johnson, 50 Church Street Productions, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, John Arthur Pinckard, Megan Savage/Greg Nobile, Ryan Mackey, and Green State Productions, in association with The Hartford Stage and the Old Globe Theatre.
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