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A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder KILLS at the Aronoff Center

Review by Spenser Smith of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder: Cincinnati Broadway Series

After winning the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical, Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder sets out on tour to tell the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession, by any means necessary. All the while, he’s got to juggle his mistress (she’s after more than just love), his fiancée (she’s his cousin but who’s keeping track?), and the constant threat of landing behind bars! Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way to his inheritance…and be done in time for tea.

Kevin Massey plays Monty, who narrates his story throughout. Once he realizes there are only seven people between him and a family fortune, he will stop at nothing on his climb to the top. His charm and wit are infectious and his voice angelic… and we’re talking about a murderer here. The eight family members who meet their untimely demise are played hysterically by John Rapson. Those quick changes as he transitions from one character to the next are wicked fast and like the scene changes throughout, are seamless. Engaged love interest Sibella Hallward (Kristen Beth Williams) and cousin Phoebe (Kristen Hahn) have the pleasure of singing the evening’s most memorable songs and wearing the best of Linda Cho’s gorgeous Tony Award winning costumes. Other notable performances include Mary VanArsdel as the cheeky Miss Shingle and Kristen Mengelkoch (twin sister of Cincinnati favorite Kelly Mengelkoch) who steals the better half of Act 2 with her snarky Lady Eugenia.

Smart and efficient direction by Darko Tresnjak make the almost 90-minute first half go by in a flash. The same can be said of the scenic design by Alexander Dodge. The actors are on, in and around the stage within the stage. The simple design aided in the many different settings and smoothed transitions to perfection. Although I’m afraid the music isn’t very hummable, it was refreshing to hear a rousing score full of classical singing in this age of pop-heavy musicals.

Gentleman’s Guide continues at the Aronoff Center through January 8.

For tickets, visit the box office located at 650 Walnut Street , call 513-621-2787 [ARTS] or you can order online at cincinnatiarts.org.