Staff Report


“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” which took the 2014 Tony Awards by storm with 10 nominations – and winning four, including Best Musical — will play in the Marian Theatre in Santa Maria from April 25 through May 12 and in the Solvang Festival Theater from June 13 through 30.

Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune, sets out to jump the line of succession by “eliminating” the eight relatives who stand in his way to becoming the ninth Earl of Highhurst. In the midst of his macabre plotting, he also finds himself juggling the affections of two beautiful women – one, his very married mistress, and the other a distant cousin.

The conceit of the play is that all of Monty’s victims are played by one actor, so that the same person “dies” over and over and over in hilarious ways.

“Subconsciously, we know that can’t really be happening so, in a way, it makes it okay for us to root for the killer, especially when he is played by George Walker,” Director Brad Carroll said. “Meanwhile, for Andy Philpot, playing all of the eight victims, it becomes a tour de force. For him, the show backstage might almost be more interesting than the show onstage because of his lightning-fast quick changes.

“I think audiences will be amazed when he leaves the stage as one character and returns 10 seconds later as a completely different human being,” Carroll said.

The Edwardian Era backdrop for the show lends itself to a romantic golden age style with the appearance of manners and class on the surface and a not so pretty reality underneath.

“Think early Downton Abbey as a musical sitcom. Or, Oscar Wilde meets Agatha Christie, meets Gilbert and Sullivan, meets British Music Hall, with a dash of Monty Python,” Carroll said.

In addition to Walker and Philpot, the cast includes Emily Trask, Yusef Seevers, Erik Stein, Amani Dorn, Guest Artist Jacqueline Hildebrand, and Acting Intern Skye Privat.

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” is based on the 1907 novel “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal,” by Roy Horniman, which was also the source for the 1949 film “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” starring Alec Guinness.

As well as its Tony awards, “Gentleman’s Guide” also won awards from Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League. In 2015, it was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

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