Long before Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder was a hit Broadway show and Tony Award Best Musical winner, Michael G. Murphy, president of Shea’s loved this sweet comical show about Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who improves his chances of succession by eliminating the eight relatives who stand in his way. The national touring production arrives at Shea’s next week.
“I read the script,” recalls Murphy, who was the managing director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego at the time. “It was originally called ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets,’ after the 1949 film based on the same material, [the 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal]. But after some legal complication, anything original to the film was removed and this wonderfully entertaining musical, based entirely on the book emerged. I got a call from Hartford Stage, where it was first produced, and they asked if we were interested. There was no talk at all of Broadway at that time. All I knew was that we were interested to work with [director] Darko [Tresnjak] again, and I thought our audience would love the show.
Murphy was right.
“I attended the opening in Hartford,” says Murphy. “The audience loved it, and the New York Times review was a love letter! Then it moved to San Diego, where a few changes were made. Two ensemble members were added. Costumes were added. Still, we never dreamed it would win the Tony Award for Best Musical!”
Why was this show an unlikely Tony contender?
“It was never a question of quality,” says Murphy. “We knew the show was good. But it didn’t have any stars. We weren’t able to use the more recognizable title. It wasn’t based on a recent film.”
Nonetheless, the show was a rousing Broadway success.
Some thought that with its whimsical intimacy, the show might not tour well. Murphy dismisses any such notion entirely.
“Because of its style, and and the stylishness of the period and the staging, the tour is going very well, and the show will look beautiful at Shea’s. The comedy is dry but actually very broad. No matter where you sit, you will laugh and enjoy this show!”
On the tour, Kevin Massey will play Monty, and John Rapson will play the doomed members fo the D’Ysquith Family.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder will play at Shea’s from February 16 – 22, 2017.