A few years ago Richard and I went to see Steve Lutvak do his cabaret show at this little club over on Theatre Row. He’s a singer songwriter, and clearly has a lot of talent, but was a little too taken with his own cuteness. The one song that stood apart from the others was “Bagelmaker to the Czar”, a truly brilliant song. He mentioned in the show that he was working on a musical adaptation of the film *Kind Hearts and Coronets*. We both made a note of that.
We saw the movie this summer, and it was delightful. Alec Guinness runs away with the film playing eight roles. It’s the story of a young man in England in 1909 who learns that his mother came from a rich and noble family. There are eight people standing between him and the family title and castle and the story is about how he kills those eight people.
Lutvak couldn’t get the rights to the movie title, but the title of the musical (*A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder*) is just as good, right? We saw the second preview, and it was brilliant. The songs were dazzling, with more than a whiff of Gilbert and Sullivan. He expresses character in the music, which takes real skill. And the words made you want to listen to them - - quite a few times the audience laughed and then instantly fell silent, so they could hear the next line. I love it when that happens. The performances were all very strong: Jefferson Mays was in the Guinness roles. This is the actor who did *I Am My Own Wife*, in which he played over thirty characters, so a mere eight characters is a walk in the park. He was hilarious. Bryce Pinkham was the leading man - - he has a lovely voice and knew when to be the star of the show and went to surrender the stage to others. Lisa O’Hare was his girlfriend, she was marvelous. She had the most interesting music, maybe because she’s the most complex character. And Lauren Worsham did a great job as his wife. I heard her as Flora in *The Turn of the Screw* at New York City Opera earlier this year, she’s wonderful.
I hope the show runs for a while, but I’m afraid that it’s too highbrow for the unwashed masses. If it does close in the next few months, I hope it’s remembered when the Tony nominations come around - - the score, in particular, deserves a nomination.