"A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder" On Stage at the Selma Arts Center

by Lorie Lewis Ham

Ever since I saw a performance of "I've Decided to Marry You" from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder on the Tony Awards in 2014 (where it won Best Musical), I knew this was a show I wanted to see. When a tour of the show came through Fresno in 2017, I made sure to see it and I wasn’t disappointed! It is a hilarious and fun show. When I saw that the Selma Arts Center was doing it this year I marked it down on my calendar!

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is a musical comedy, with the book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and the music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak. It is based on the 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman.
Cast of "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"

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The show opens with the ensemble in mourning clothes advising the audience that those of weaker constitution may want to leave. Next, we see Monty Navarro (Aaron Pierce) sitting down to write his memoirs, which he decides should be called "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder”, on the eve of his possible execution for murder. We then go back in time to when Monty’s troubles (or possibly good fortune?) began. He learns from an older woman named Miss Shingle (Jessica Reedy) that he is related to the very wealthy D'Ysquith family who disowned his mother when she married someone unsuitable. Monty writes a letter to Lord Asquith D'Ysquith, Sr., (Randall Kohlruss) the head of the D'Ysquith family banking house, explaining who he is and asking if the Lord might have a job for him. When he is also turned away, Monty is at first uncertain what to do. He shares his news with the love of his life, Sibella (Taylor Delgado), who has refused to marry him because he is poor. She remarks that eight people would have to die in order for him to become earl, which starts Monty on a surprising path (which explains the situation he is in at the beginning of the show).
Ensemble of "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"

A D'Ysquith (Randall Kohlruss) & Monty (Aaron Pierce)
One might think this is a serious show about murder and revenge, and while you would be somewhat correct, mostly it is a hilarious comedy! Even though you shouldn’t, you find yourself routing for Monty on his path to become the earl.

Every member of the D'Ysquith family, except for Phoebe D'Ysquith (Cady Mejias), is played with comedic perfection by Randall Kohlruss-including the other female members.

I believe I first saw Aaron Pierce on stage in 2015 in the ensemble of the RCTC production of Sweeney Todd, and with that lovely voice of his I knew he would be someone to watch, and he has certainly been that. While he has always been talented, as an adult he has become an amazing actor with the voice of an angel! I could listen to him sing all day and never tire of that voice, and his acting as Monty perfectly captured the many nuances of this character.
Sibella (Taylor Delgado) & Monty (Aaron Pierce) 

Both Taylor and Cady were also wonderful in their roles and sang beautifully. The costumes were also perfect! Have I used the word perfect too much? I think not, as this production is perfect and on the level with any professional production. The ensemble and Jessica Reedy were also very good-be sure to watch Michael Brandon Fidalgo’s facial expressions when he is on stage in his various parts-they are priceless!

I would be remiss if I didn’t offer kudos to co-directors Dakota Simpson and Michael C. Flores, who put the many pieces of this wonderful production together!

If you want to see a show that will have you laughing all the way through, be sung to by a vocally talented cast, wonderfully acted, see amazing costumes, and just an overall amazing show, do not miss this production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The remaining performances are March 28-30 at the Selma Arts Center, 1935 High St, Selma, CA. Tickets can be purchased by calling (559) 891-2238 or on their website.

All photos by Kyle Lowe and Juan Luis Guzmán.

Check out more local theatre reviews & articles in Kings River Life's Arts & Entertainment section!

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Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie's mystery writing at Mysteryrat's Closet.