Jefferson Mays, Playing an Octet of Heirs, Begins West Coast Leg of Gentleman's Guide Musical

News   Jefferson Mays, Playing an Octet of Heirs, Begins West Coast Leg of Gentleman's Guide Musical
The fall 2012 Hartford Stage troupers of the new musical comedy A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder reunite starting March 8 at The Old Globe in San Diego. Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays returns in eight roles in the frisky romp about a line of heirs, family money and homicide.

Jefferson Mays
Jefferson Mays Photo by Joan Marcus

The show with book by Robert L. Freedman, music by Steven Lutvak and lyrics by Freedman and Lutvak, got a rave in the New York Times, brightening its prospects for an eventual and likely Broadway transfer (though nothing has been officially announced). Producers traveled to Hartford to see the earlier run in Connecticut. The staging, directed by Hartford artistic director Darko Tresnjak, who is former Old Globe co-artistic director, is a co-production of the two theatres.

The musical is based on the novel "Israel Rank" by Roy Horniman.

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder runs to April 14 on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage in the Old Globe Theatre, part of the Globe's Conrad Prebys Theatre Center. Opening night is March 13.

Here's how the dark romp is billed: "When Monty Navarro, the black sheep of the D'Ysquith family, finds out he is ninth in line to inherit a dukedom, he decides to eliminate the other eight heirs standing in his way — all played by Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays (I Am My Own Wife). Set in England's elegant Edwardian era, this witty music hall comedy explores how low we'll go to make it to the top."

Ken Barnett stars as the charming and vengeful Monty Navarro. He has appeared on Broadway in Wonderful Town directed by Kathleen Marshall and The Green Bird directed by Julie Taymor. His Off-Broadway credits include the world premiere of February House, Manon/Sandra, Debbie Does Dallas, The Whore of Sheridan Square and La Ronde, for which he received the Best Actor Award at the New York International Fringe Festival. Impish Mays plays all eight ill-fated members of the D'Ysquith clan. Mays' Broadway debut in the one-man show I Am My Own Wife earned him the 2004 Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Play as well as Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Obie, Helen Hayes and Drama League Awards. His other Broadway credits include Journey's End, Pygmalion and last season's Gore Vidal's The Best Man. His Off-Broadway credits include the American premiere of Blood and Gifts, Measure for Measure, Quills and Orestes.

Ken Barnett and Lisa O'Hare
photo by Joan Marcus

The cast of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder also features Chilina Kennedy (as Phoebe D'Ysquith), Lisa O'Hare (as Sibella Hallward) and Heather Ayers, Rachel Izen, Kevin Ligon, Kendal Sparks, Price Waldman and Catherine Walker (Ensemble).

The creative team includes choreographer Peggy Hickey, Alexander Dodge (scenic design), Linda Cho (costume design), Philip S. Rosenberg (lighting design), Dan Moses Schreier (sound design), Aaron Rhyne (projection design), Charles LaPointe (wig design), Jonathan Tunick (orchestrator), Mike Ruckles (music director), Dianne Adams McDowell and Steven Lutvak (vocal arrangements), Binder Casting (casting), Jan Gist (dialect consultant) and Susie Cordon (stage manager).

Robert L. 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.

Steven 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.

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