Although not quite to the manor born, Monty Navarro (Jimmy Nicholas) manages to work his way up with some murderous mayhem in Florida Studio Theatre’s season opener, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
As Monty is eighth in line of succession, he will only land the coveted title of the Earl of Highhurst, if those ahead of him cease to exist. He discovers this on the night of his mother’s funeral. Angry at the way his mother was treated by the D’Ysquith family, he is prepared to do whatever it takes to clear the path for him to inherit the title.
Adding zest to this clever scenario are the two loves of his life — his mistress Sibella (Sarah Ellis) and Phoebe (Alexandra Zorn) his fiancee.
Each of these characters are given over the top interpretations by these talented players guided by the creative talents of director Jason Cannon and musical director Darren Server who prove to be a well-oiled team that takes a great concept and with a team of talented actors, milks the clever script for every drop of humor.
Tackling the toughest role of all — that of all the heirs that need to be sent to “the other side” — is Richard Henry, an actor big enough, literally, to do it all with outrageous gusto. There is a skating scene in which the hero cuts a hole in the ice, a formal dinner during which a very long and somewhat rustic gun is waved about, some choral scenes in which all are dressed in funeral black and one especially outrageously humorous scene in which the hero’s mistress is in his bedroom and his fiancee is in the drawing room. The two rooms are separated by a tiny hallway where the would-be earl must keep the doors closed lest one woman discover the proximity of the other woman. This scene is just another of many sight gags that carry the mayhem onward and upward.
Throw in some touches of operatic choruses and prepare to laugh for a really long musical that seems to be over all too soon.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” with book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak continues on the Gompertz stage where its run likely will be extended. This is the first of the four-show subscription package which will include: “Straight White Men, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night” and the world premier of “Wednesday’s Child” by Mark St. Germain. For tickets, call 941-366-9000 or visit: FloridaStudioTheatre.org.
Florida Studio Theatre is at 1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota. The Gompertz Theatre is at 1265 First St., in the same buildings as the Court Cabaret, Green Room restaurant and Bowne’s Lab Theatre. Enjoy dinner before the show in the Green Room.