DUNDALK — Allowing a man to fall from a bell tower. Setting up another to fall through ice. Sending a woman to her unknown death in Africa. These sinister acts can be seen in “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” currently playing at the Dundalk Community Theater.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” is a lighthearted, yet slightly dark, musical comedy based on the 1907 novel “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal,” written by Roy Horniman. The musical appeared on Broadway for four years, winning four Tony Awards in 2014, including one for Best Musical.
The show at the Dundalk Community Theater is directed by Todd Pearthree, who said he really wanted to do this musical. The sentiment was shared by Mark Smith, set and lighting designer at the Dundalk Community Theater.
“It was just a matter of the board picking the show, and then they interviewed directors, and everyone put in their bid,” Pearthree said. “They chose me. It’s a show I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years.”
The story is set in early twentieth century England and is centered around a young gentleman named Montague “Monty” Navarro, who is sitting in a prison cell writing a personal account. He calls it “A Gentleman’s Guide to Murder,” before changing the name of the account to “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
It begins with Navarro in his home, having just lost his mother. He is told by a visiting family friend that he comes from a line of aristocrats belonging to the D’Ysquith family. Lord Asquith D’Ysquith is the Earl of Highhurst, with eight more D’Ysquiths in line for the title.
Navarro writes a letter to Lord D’Ysquith, telling of his new revelation and inquiring about a possible job with the family’s banking business. He receives a reply from Lord D’Ysquith’s son, Asquith D’Ysquith, Jr., telling him the revelation is not true and to never contact the family again.
Not allowing himself to be deterred, Navarro proceeds to find answers about his lineage.
Navarro is played by Rob Tucker, an educator and advocate with a great set of pipes. Pearthree said four people auditioned for the part of Navarro, and he had the role narrowed down to two people before deciding it would go to Tucker.
“I had worked with Rob before, and the other fellow as well,” Pearthree said.
“Coming to the starting gate, I thought the other guy was more right for the role. But then Rob auditioned, and he’s very busy. In addition to being a teacher, he’s also involved in education and lobbying and all of that sort of stuff. In this case, it fit into his schedule and his reading was very correct, and there’s that voice. That voice is just, what a gift from God. It’s effortless. He just opens up and out it comes.”
The lead role, however, belongs to Patrick Martyn, who plays seven different members of the D’Ysquith family. Six of those seven characters are in line for the earldom, and many of them suffer an untimely demise.
Pearthree said that Martyn was one of three people to audition for the lead role.
“One guy was a musical comedy guy and one guy was a comic, but Patrick is an actor,” Pearthree said.
“I just thought he was the most right, so that’s how Patrick ended up with the part.”
Allison Comotto and Marina Yiannouris provide strong supporting roles, playing Sibella Hallward and Phoebe D’Ysquith, respectively. Both characters are portrayed as love interests of Navarro.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” will show for one last weekend, Nov. 1-3, at the Dundalk Community Theater. Showtimes on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 is 8 p.m. The Nov. 3 showing is a matinee, beginning at 3 p.m.
General admission for the show is $22. The cost of admission for seniors is $19, while children and students can purchase tickets for $14. The Dundalk Community Theater is located at Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) Dundalk.