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MURDER MOST FUN: A Conversation with the Team Behind “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” at the 92nd Street Y

Steven Lutvak, Jefferson Mays, Lauren Worsham, Lisa O’Hare, Bryce Pinkham, David Cote, Robert L. Freedman + Darko Tresnjak (rear)

MURDER MOST FUN: A Conversation with the Team Behind “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” at the 92nd Street Y.

                                                                 By Linda Amiel Burns

On Sunday, May 11th the 92nd Street Y presented a Lyrics & Lyricist “special event” - an evening with members of the cast and creative team of the Broadway musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.  Moderated by David Cote who said that this Edwardian England-set comedy was the “best reviewed” show of the season. It landed 12 Drama Desk and 10 Tony nominations including best musical, best director and best actor for two if its stars.

On stage to talk about their production’s 10 year journey to its triumphant opening last fall on Broadway, was Robert L. Freedman writer of the book and lyrics, seated at the piano, Steven Lutvack composer of the music and lyrics, Darko Tresnjak, the director, and cast members Jefferson Mays who plays multiple roles, Bryce Pinkham (Monty Navarro), Lisa O’Hare (Sibella Hallward) and Lauren Worsham (Phoebe D’Ysquith).

Steven began by saying that when he was in college in 1978, he saw the film “Kind Hearts & Coronets” with Alec Guiness and thought that it would be a good musical. Many years later he brought Robert Freedman on board and they both immediately understood what the tone of the show would be and continued to challenge themselves.  There is not a single “not true” rhyme in the entire show and the lyrics are brilliant.  Steven and Robert talked about their creative process, the songs that had to be tossed and the many different lyrics that they wrote for situations that didn’t happen.

We were reminded that this was a Sunday night and the cast was exhausted as they had performed 8 shows during the week and had many press interviews and appearances since getting the award nominations. However, you would never have known that this was an issue as they performed the remarkable material with great enthusiasm to the delight of the audience.

The ultra versatile and talented Jefferson Mays plays eight different roles, all of the doomed heirs who meet their ends in the most creative and sidesplitting ways.  When he was first suggested for the lead role, Steve thought he would be perfect but wanted to know if he could sing!  As it turns out, Jefferson certainly could as he demonstrated singing “I Don’t Understand the Poor, “ and several other songs from the show along with his one-of-a-kind expressions and a few of his renowned pratfalls.

Lauren Worsham, Lisa O’Hare, Bryce Pinkham, Robert L. Freeman (rear)

When asked about their “favorite moments” in the show, two cast members said that “The Trio” was their favorite number and Darko said that staging it was challenging and the most fun he will ever have working on a musical.  Bryce, Lisa & Lauren sang the complicated and hilarious trio from the show.

Robert mentioned that not many composers could demonstrate a song the way that Steven does as he is a terrific singer/ performer and well known in the cabaret world for years for his solo shows and remarkable songs.  He played and sang several of the songs from Gentleman’s Guide, including one that they couldn’t fit into the show that Monty would have sung about his mother, “An Angel on My Shoulder” and Steven’s mother, Sylvia, was in the audience. One of the highlights was a song that Steven performed from their next show, Campaign of the Century about the Republican smears when Upton Sinclair ran for President.

Steven Lutvak, Jefferson Mays                 photos by Timmy Blupe

The evening flew by and the audience couldn’t seem to get enough of the delightful inside stories of the birth of this “Killer New Musical: A Conversation with the Team Behind "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder." Kudos to the Y for this wonderful offering and to creative team and cast for their generosity and making this a memorable event.

To listen to the entire interview about the making of this incredible musical, click on the audio link below, enter the password, and enjoy!

 92Y: 20140511 - A Killer New Musical: A Conversation with the Team Behind "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"