A Chat With Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman, the Gentlemen Behind the Murder
By Carey Purcell
Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman, the composer, lyricist and bookwriters for the new musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, chat with Playbill.com about their long journey to Broadway.
It's taken ten years for Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak's musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder to slash its way to the Broadway stage. Adapted from the novel "Israel Rank" by Roy Horniman, which was the inspiration for the film "Kind Hearts and Coronets," starring Alec Guinness, the musical comedy follows Monty Navarro, a young man who learns he is ninth in line to inherit a fortune — and sets out to murder everyone who stands in his way.
Prior to its Broadway engagement, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder made its world premiere at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, CA, and played an engagement at Hartford Stage. The Broadway production began previews Oct. 22 at the Walter Kerr Theatre, prior to a Nov. 17 opening, starring Bryce Pinkham as Monty and Tony winner Jefferson Mays (I Am My Own Wife) as the eight family members standing in his way.
Freedman and Lutvak previously collaborated on the musical Campaign of the Century. In 2006, the duo received the Kleban Award for Lyric Writing for the Theater and the Fred Ebb Award for Songwriting for the Theater — the first time these two awards were presented to the same team in the same year.
Freedman and Lutvak chatted with Playbill.com about the process of adapting the book into a musical and the secrets behind inspiring the audience to root for a murderer.
Tell us about the musical. How does a gentleman commit murder?
Steven Lutvak: I've always said that we all want to kill our families. But, because of the way we've done it here, we have the cathartic thrill of murdering these people, knowing that he will come back as somebody else. So we get to have our cake and eat it, too, in a certain way.
How do you make the audience root for Monty, even when he's committing murder?
What is it about British entertainment that you think Americans love so much?
RLF: It's just a coincidence that "Downton Abbey" appeared as we were getting this show mounted. We actually started writing it in 2004. We're both big fans of "Downton Abbey." This is like "Downton Abbey" on acid, or "Downton Abbey" meets Little Shop of Horrors. We're not a horror story at all, but there is some suspense.
The musical seems to be saying a lot about class structures in British society. There's a song titled "I Don't Understand the Poor."
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