Theatre review: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

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Theatre review: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

Nick Tubbs as Monty Navarro and Julian Burrows as Sibella Hallward in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Nick Tubbs as Monty Navarro and Julian Burrows as Sibella Hallward in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Photo by Caught in the Moment Photography

Nick Tubbs as Monty Navarro and Julian Burrows as Sibella Hallward in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Photo by Caught in the Moment Photography

Photo by Caught in the Moment Photography

Nick Tubbs as Monty Navarro and Julian Burrows as Sibella Hallward in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

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It is only in a musical that brings to life caricatures of British snootiness that the horror of several consecutive murders can turn into jolly entertainment.

One of the best examples of this comic portrayal of ignorance, in this reviewer’s opinion, was the lofty lady Hyacinth D’Ysquith, who was desperate to find “a place so low that hope itself has been abandoned.” And so, she braves traveling to Egypt, India and Africa in order to “civilize a village in the jungle.” She wears her narrow-mindedness like a badge of honor, singing that in Africa she’ll learn to “swing from vine to vine” and will learn “their mother tongue in no time” because “[O]f words, they have but six/And five of them are clicks/And all of them are different words for dung.” She goes on these adventures so that she will be the subject of envy and a feature in the Times of London! And that’s how her death insinuates laughter instead of sympathy.

The protagonist is the heartbroken and prospect-less Monty Navarro (Nick Tubbs), who is mourning his mother and is about to lose his lover Sibella Hallward (Julia Burrows) to a rich man. That’s when the deus-ex machina, the savior Miss Shingle, informs him that his mother was an heir to the wealthy D’Ysquith family, renounced for marrying down. He finds all the letters his deceased mother had sent to her family asking for help after the death of her husband. But the cruel rich refused to acknowledge her, and she suffered a Dickensian lifestyle of scrubbing floors to feed her son.

Miss Shingle does not leave before informing Monty that “only eight other relations stand between you and the current Earl of Highhurst, Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith himself.” And hence Monty starts slaying his relatives, hoping to get away with murder and keeping his girlfriend.

Jeff Skowron shines in multiple roles, all of whom are doomed to death so our hero can reach the title and fortune his mother was denied.

The Edwardian sets and costumes of the four-time Tony Award-winning musical are beautifully designed at the 3-D Theatricals, swiftly shifting between the top of a building, to a frozen lake, to a garden. The choreographer and director is the Broadway’s Peggy Hickey. The musical is based on a book by Robert L. Freedman, music is by Steve Lutvaki and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and Steve Lutvaki.

The rich-voiced cast, pleasant melodies and witty humor make A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder an engrossing show.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder runs from Feb. 15 to March 3 at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Dr. Tickets are on sale at cost betweeen $40 to $85. Online ticketing is available at both cerritoscenter.com and 3dtheatricals.org. The theater’s box office can be reached at (562) 916-8500.