All is fair in love and war, but does that apply to a low-born man who learns he is eighth in line to an earldom and subsequently kills those family members standing in his way?
Audiences can decide for themselves when "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" opens at Stars Theatre Restaurant this weekend. The Tony Award-winning musical comedy will run at the downtown theater through Sept. 7.
Written by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, "A Gentleman's Guide" tells the story of Monty Navarro, who, upon his mother's death in 1907, learns that he is actually part of the noble D'Ysquith family.
"Monty’s ambition sets him down a treacherous path filled with deadly consequences for the unfortunate D’Ysquiths in line ahead of him," said director Joe Lowry.
Played by Ken Burdick, Monty also deals with issues of the heart, as the title suggests. Lowry said Monty tries to better himself to avoid losing the love of his life, Sibella (Abby Bowles-Votaw). Soon enough, though, Monty also falls in love with Phoebe (Amanda Locke).
"I was unfamiliar with the musical when I was asked to direct it, but I have been very pleased with the music and script," Lowry said. "I think it is very cleverly constructed."
While Monty interacts with several members of his newfound family, Burdick will be acting opposite just one person. Kevin McDonald plays eight different people in his role as the D'Ysquith family, maintaining the tradition from the play's original productions.
"Playing the role of the D’Ysquith family is a real challenge, from quick costume changes to various musical numbers and hilarious situations as each character meets their demise," Lowry said. "I haven’t decided which is my favorite."
Though the story is certainly a horror for some members of the family, it should be fun for audiences who appreciate a bit of dark humor. The fun continues with the play's songs, which include titles like "Poison in My Pocket" and "Why Are All the D'Ysquiths Dying?"
"The music, while mostly satirical, has its moments of honesty and charm," Lowry said. "The live orchestra at Stars makes it a wonderful night of theater."
Behind the scenes, Lowry has also been working with musical director Caley Mayhall and choreographer Kelci Cerri.
Lowry compared directing this play to "The 39 Steps," which he directed at the same theater in 2016. Though he has a few more actors in this cast than the four in that earlier play, Lowry is still working with a pretty small group.
"Being a musical with a small cast size, only 10 in our case, it was a challenge getting the right voices combined with acting chops to pull it off," he said. "I’m pleased with the results. The actors are very generous and have worked hard in the rehearsals."
Theater fans will have four weeks to catch "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," and Lowry hopes people will check it out.
"The show has great music and comedy, albeit dark comedy," he said. "Our cast is loaded with talent, and I think the audiences will find it entertaining."