Even the methods of killing seem quirkier and less aggressive in the musical than the movie. Whereas Louis Mazzini coldly and slightly menacingly poisons, bombs and shoots his victims (one at point blank range), Monty Navarro's killings are more passive and comical and often accompanied by a hilarious song. He allows one relative to fall to his death by not lending a hand of support, cuts a hole in ice so that another falls through while skating, causes a third to be stung to death by a swarm of bees, influences a fourth to travel to dangerous lands, allows a fifth to be squashed by a bar bell while lifting weights and a sixth to accidentally shoot herself while acting in a play. You are so busy laughing at the way Monty's plots play out that you find yourself rooting for him despite his murderous acts.
Both productions are told in flashback and much of the comedy stems from the use of a voice-over by Louis/Monty as he calmly, wryly and often ironically describes his thoughts and the results of his machinations. Pretending to run out to "save" one of his victims, he dryly notes "needless to say, I was too late..."). A subplot involves Louis/Monty juggling two beautiful women, his mistress Sibella who married another for money instead of marrying him for love, and Edith/Phoebe, the wife/sister of one of his victims. Whereas in Kind Hearts and Coronets, Sibella is cold and calculating and Edith is prim and inflexible, their counterparts in the musical are giddy, goofy and much more likeable.
2014 Tony Awards and it immediately piqued my interest in watching the show.
The songs for A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder have catchy tunes and witty lyrics. My favourites include the opening numbers of the first and second acts, both sung by the chorus. In "A Warning to the Audience", they caution that "This is a tale of revenge and retribution, so if you're smart, before we start, you'd best depart!". Even funnier is the song "Why Are All the D'YSquiths Dying", where the mourners lament about having to attend so many funerals and end with the lines "Why are all the D'Ysquiths dying? Whoever's next, I swear I won't come back! I'm utterly exhausted keeping track. And most of all, I'm sick of wearing black!"
This show is so much fun that after watching it from our upper balcony seats as part of our Mirvish subscription, we decided to buy Dress Circle seats to watch it again. When Lord Adalbert D'Ysquith sings the song "I Don't Understand The Poor", he points up to the people in the "cheap seats". It felt nice on our second viewing, knowing that he was no longer referring to us! We found that not only could we see better from the closer seats, but we could hear the lyrics better as well.