A phenomenal A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is now playing at the NJ Shakespeare Theatre

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
The Broadway hit of seasons past, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is now playing at the legendary F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater in Madison, NJ, on the Drew University campus. It is a winner. You must see it. It is clever, funny, touching, and bursting with talented actors and crew. 
The incredible Christopher Sutton plays all eight of the ill-fated D’Ysquith heirs who fall prey to the charming and murderous Monty Navarro, portrayed by Miles Jacoby. Sutton creates eight totally different characters and is a delight. Sutton needs to assume multiple characters with multiple costume changes. Truly astonishing how that happens. See it and delight in it. Remember that he dies eight times a performance. Jacoby plays Monty, a shy, unassuming man who grows in audacity as his murders pile up. Monty also becomes irresistible to women, who would do anything for him to love them. The two women are Eryn LeCroy as Phoebe D’Ysquith, heiress and noble soul, and the voluptuous, social climbing Claire Leyden as bombshell Sibella Hallward. Adjectives such as Delectable, Bliss, and Sin are used to depict her. It must be added that being an astounding actress, as well as a great beauty definitely helps Sibella’s/Claire’s personna. The production also includes Lauren Cohn, Javier Alfonso Castellanos, Bobby Cook Gallagher, Francesca Mehrotra, James Conrad Smith, Kayla Ryan Walsh, and Katie Zaffrann.
The late Composer and Lyricist Steven Lutvak appeared on the gone but not forgotten Theater Talk recorded 3/14/14. He provided great insight into the then Broadway hit. He spoke about the great homoerotic number “Only Another Man Understands What Another Man Needs.” Christopher Sutton and Miles Jacoby underplay the song brilliantly in this production. Another brilliant number states, “I Don’t Understand The Poor” sung by another soon-to-be-murdered fabulously wealthy and privileged relative. You see, there are a number of relatives who must die before Monty inherits an Earldom. Each has their own character sketch in music, and each is a joy to hear. 
It may appear that each song is about Class, but that would be selling the musical short. Clearly, it is about appearances, the power wealth brings, and the effects beautiful women in distress can use against gullible men to accomplish their goals in the world of 1909. Gender is constantly put on display as a Performance, since one actor plays eight relatives both male and female. Cross-dressing, gender fluidity, are all performative masks of gender as a role.
One delicious scene has portraits of the distinguished forebears hanging upon the castle wall. They magically come to life with actors joining in the musical number, and commenting on the stage action. It is reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore, where relatives come to life out of their paintings. 
Christopher Sutton as eight doomed individuals creates a tour-de-force performance ably abetted by a uniformly fine cast. 


F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre

36 Madison Avenue (at Lancaster Road), Madison, NJ

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Book and Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman & Music and Lyrics by Steven Lutvak. Based on A Novel by Roy Horniman.

Directed by Brian B. Crowe.


May 15 – June 9, 2024; a full performance calendar can be found on the STNJ website.

TICKETS AND INFORMATION: Call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit ShakespeareNJ.org


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