Last night I saw the Broadway production of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” I went with my friend novelist Tom Murphy (Lily Cigar and Ballet, Learn more here ). Decades ago, Tom remarked that the Alec Guinness film “Kind Hearts and Cornets” would make a great musical. Broadway finally caught up with Tom’s thinking with the current production that he and I saw last evening.
The 1949 film is one of the best ever, a black comedy tour-de-force where Guinness plays eight members of the D’Ascoyne family—all of whom are done away with by an estranged son of the family. The young man seeks the title, the castle, and revenge for his mother, who was disowned by her aristocratic relatives for the unforgivable sin of marrying an Italian. (Can you imagine such a disgrace?) If you haven’t seen it lately, I urge you to mend your ways.
The Tony Award winning “A Gentleman’s Guide” follows the same story—loosely based on a 1907 book. The staging is spectacular and the production liberally laced with canny visual touches that raise the level of hilarity. (Mama’s sin, by the way, is changed to her having married a Spaniard. Parse out the social significance of that if you dare.) Jeffrey Mays plays the Guinness roles singing, dancing, and pratfalling to perfection. The songs are melodic (none of that forgettable droning that characterizes many modern-day musicals). The entire cast is quite wonderful, especially the drop-dead-gorgeous Lisa O’Hare as Sibella, the protagonist’s love interest. It seems entirely unfair that one woman can look like that AND act so well, AND sing in that splendid voice. You can find out more, see the trailer, and hear samples of the songs here:
I heartily recommend it!