• Pamela Froman

A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder

A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder is playing at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. This musical comedy, with the book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and the music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak won four Tony Awards at the 68th Tony Awards.

The musical opens with Lord Montague “Monty” D'Ysquith Navarro, Ninth Earl of Highhurst in jail. Becuase he believes he is about to be executed, he writes his memoirs.

Vincent Perez plays Monty in the production. He plays Monty as scheming, yet lovable ruffian. We are rooting for him throughout the production.

Monty's mother has just died. Miss Marietta Shingle, a friend of the family, arrives to tell Monty that his mother was in fact a member of the aristocratic D'Ysquith family. Monty is ninth in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst. This is burst into song with the musical number “You're a D'Ysquith”!

Monty pens a letter to Lord Asquith D'Ysquith, Sr., explaining his connection to the family and inquiring if there might be a job.

Monty is in love with Miss Sibella Hallward, but she will not marry him. Sibella is played to perfection by Deborah Robin. Her spunky voice and demeanor bring life to her character. Sibella dubiously accepts Monty's story about his lineage, but remarks that eight people would have to die in order for him to become earl. And that line sparks Monty's quest!

This Broadway hit is filled with unforgettable music, nonstop comedy, and a scene-stealing role for Adam Womack, the actor who plays all eight of the doomed heirs!

Monty tries his luck with the clergyman in the family, Reverend Lord Ezekial D'Ysquith. The Reverend gives Monty a tour of the ancestral family church. Monty and the Reverend ascend the bell tower, where the Reverend loses his balance and falls to his death.

Monty next sets his sights on Asquith D'Ysquith, Jr. He observes Asquith, Jr. and his mistress Miss Evangeline Barley as they go ice-skating, and Monty is struck by inspiration. He cuts a hole in the ice, and the skaters fall through and drown.

Monty then returns to London and receives a letter from Lord Asquith D'Ysquith, Sr., inviting Monty to get a job.

Monty now fixes on his cousin Henry D'Ysquith. Henry is married but clearly prefers the company of men. Monty picks up on this and befriends him, singing “Better With a Man”. Henry is also an avid beekeeper. Monty obtains a bottle of lavender perfume, to which the bees are attracted. He douses Henry's beekeeping clothes with the lavender, and while flirting with Miss Phoebe D'Ysquith Henry is stung to death. Phoebe is played by Siena Avila. She brings a sweetness to the role.

Next on the list is Lady Hyacinth D'Ysquith, an unmarried woman, who devotes herself to philanthropic causes. Monty encourages her to travel to war-torn Egypt, then a leper colony in India. To Monty's chagrin, she returns unharmed both times, before he sends her to an African jungle where a cannibal tribe lives. Monty is trying his hardest to dispose of her!

Monty charms his way into acting as the Major Lord Bartholomew D'Ysquith's spotter on the bench-press. Monty adds more weight than Bartholomew can hold, and the barbell decapitates him.

The deaths leave only two people in the way: the present earl and Lord Asquith, Sr., Monty's employer and benefactor. Monty is conflicted, finding he has no desire to murder the kindly Lord Asquith, but is let off the hook when the old man succumbs to a heart attack.

“Why Are All the D’Ysquiths Dying?” Of course we know why! Monty is killing them!

Monty and Sibella continue their affair. While she is unhappy with Lionel, she doesn't necessarily regret marrying for self-interest, and wouldn't begrudge Monty for doing the same. Phoebe unexpectedly arrives, and Sibella hides in the next room. This was a hilarious number as Phoebe belts out the tune “I’ve Decided to Marry You” while Monty runs from one woman to the other!

Monty, Phoebe, Sibella, and Lionel are all invited to Highhurst for the weekend, so that Lord Adalbert can meet his heir. 

Miss Shingle reappears; she's been employed as a servant by the D’Ysquiths for years! Lord Adalbert takes a drink and, to everyone's surprise, drops dead.

With Lord Adalbert's death, Monty is now Lord Montague D’Ysquith Navarro, Ninth Earl of Highhurst. He and Phoebe marry but he is arrested for the murder of Lord Adalbert. Monty is charged with the one murder he didn't actually commit!

Phoebe and Sibella scheme together to provide reasonable doubt as to Monty's guilt. He is set free – but he better hide those memoirs!

A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder is playing through July 14, 2019 at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave., in Simi Valley. Tickets are $28 Adults, $24 Seniors & Students and $20 Children 12 & Under. You can buy tickets at (805) 583-7900 or at

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