As serial killers go, Monty Navarro is probably the most likeable you’ll ever encounter in musical theater.
“He’s a very charming character,” said Andrew Anderson, who plays the role of Monty in Greenville Theatre’s production of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
The Tony Award-winning musical, set in the elegant Edwardian era, opens March 6 for 11 performances through March 22.
Monty, the black sheep of the upper-crust D’Ysquith family, doesn’t set out to be a killer. But when he finds that he’s ninth in line to inherit a dukedom, he decides to eliminate the other heirs standing in his way.
In the topsy-turvy frolicsome world of “Gentleman’s Guide,” Monty the murderer is the sympathetic hero.
Monty’s victims, though, are thoroughly dislikable.
“A lot of them are pretty bad people, so you don’t feel too bad if they’re done away with,” said Carter Allen, who plays nine characters, including all of the D’Ysquith (pronounced DIE-skwith) family.
A D’Ysquith highlight is the ridiculously snooty Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith, who scoffs his way through a deliciously wicked anthem, “I Don’t Understand the Poor.”
Anderson and Allen are taking on two of musical theater’s most demanding roles.
Anderson, as Monty, almost never leaves the stage during the entire show. Allen’s nine characters, meanwhile, span various ages and genders — each with his or her own distinctive style of speaking and singing.
Allen, with the help of two dressers, has multiple costume changes in the wings that need to be accomplished in less than 30 seconds.
“I think my quickest costume change is between 15 to 20 seconds,” said Allen, 28, now in his fourth season as a part of Greenville Theatre’s resident company. “That’s a change from a female character to an older male character. It’s a fast one.”
Tony Award winner
The Broadway production of “Gentleman’s Guide” won four 2014 Tony Awards, including for Best Musical.
With sharp, witty lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and a frothy musical score (patter songs and romantic ballads) by Steven Lutvak, the show has been compared to the modern equivalent of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
“I love how fast it moves from scene to scene, song to song,” said Anderson, 25, in his second season as a member of the resident company. “I think the writing is fantastic.”
The musical is based on the 1907 novel “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal” by Roy Horniman. The same source provided the inspiration for the classic 1949 British film “Kind Hearts and Coronets.”
The musical sets out to offer a gentleman’s guide not only to murder, of course, but love as well. Monty has not one but two love interests — Sibella (played by Greenville Theatre newcomer Hope Quinn) and Phoebe (veteran Greenville Theatre actress Meg Foster). Rounding out the cast is an ensemble of about a dozen.
Paul Hyde, a longtime Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.
If you go
- What: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”
- When: 8 p.m. March 6-7; 3 p.m. March 8; 7:30 p.m. March 12; 8 p.m. March 12-14; 3 p.m. March 15; 7:30 p.m. March 19; 8 p.m. March 20-21; 3 p.m. March 22
- Where: Greenville Theatre, 444 College St.
- Tickets: $35
- Info: 864-233-6238 or greenvilletheatre.org
- The 2013 Broadway production of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” garnered almost unanimous critical acclaim. The New York Times said the “delightful” show “matches streams of memorable melody with fizzily witty turns of phrase.”
- The Broadway production won four 2014 Tony Awards, including for Best Musical — beating such top contenders for the honor as “Aladdin” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”
Photo by Escobar Photography