Set in London in 1907, "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder centers on Monty Navarro, a penniless clerk who is informed after the death of his mother that he is ninth in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst, controlled by the wealthy D’Ysquith banking family.
After the imperious ruling Lord dismisses Monty’s claim of being a relative, the eight D’Ysquiths ahead of young Mr. Navarro begin dying in natural and unnatural ways. (A single actor, James Taylor Odom) plays all the not-so-nice D'Ysquiths, adding to the merriment.) Meanwhile, Monty is trying to woo money-minded Sibella Hallward —until he finds himself drawn to young Phoebe D’Ysquith. How will all these convoluted storylines come together?
Blake Price plays Monty Navarro in the national tour. Miamiartzine.com talked to Price about the national touring show coming to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts beginning Tuesday, Jan. 9.
miamiartzine.com: You've performed a lot of Shakespeare. "Gentleman's Guide" seems complicated on some level like Shakespeare's plays. Did knowing Shakespeare help you in this role?
Blake Price: I came across this old clip from an Ian McKllan workshop, probaby from the 1980s or 1990s, where he's talking about Shakespeare. And it was informative because he was saying that you look at the work more than anything, and that's the biggest takeaway comparing this show to Shakespeare. You have Robert Friedman, who wrote the book for the show, and that makes it easy for the actor. It's like when you get to it, there is a clear way to portray everything in this show. It's very much in that similar vein. And there's something, too, about the style that ("Gentleman's Guide") has; it's in the classical style. In a classical sense, knowing Shakespeare has, yes, helped. I am glad that I had the training.
maz: Why should audiences go to this zany farce?
BP: It is an incredible show to escpe with. It's not one that's going to bash you over the head. It's going to give you a break from your normal train of thought. It's an over the top comedic story about a guy who is knocking off his relatives. And audiences will think, "Oh, that's weird and kinda of strange." The amazing thing is that the tech elements are incredible. The show is wild, no doubt. But it is choreographed within an inch of its life. You feel watching it like it might fall off the rails, but you know that it won't. What it does, though, for sure, is it gives people the chance to get away from stress and to see theater that will make them fall in love with theater again.
maz: The show has an old soul. Like Noel Coward.
BP: You're right. It's very Gilbert and Sullivanesque and that's what's so amazing about it. There's no show like it. There's no show being written for "now" for audiences today that is written the way this one is. There's nothing that even scratches the surface.
maz: Tell me about Monty Navarro.
BP: I don't want to give anything away because it's such a surprise. It's one of those things where audiences will say "I don't know if I really like Monty very much. It has the same elements in that way of "Sweeney Todd." A lot of the most interesting male characters are very complex people who do very complex things, and this is in a very different realm. It carries a lot of the same aspects. "It's why we go to see theater, because it's a given that it's not happening in real life. So, when people are doing these "odd" things, it's kind of fun.
"Gentleman's Guide To Love and Murder," through Sunday, Jan. 21. at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Broadway Across America-Fort Lauderdale series, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Performances are 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call 954-462-0222 or visit BrowardCenter.org.