A MAN OF CHARMING DECEPTION
As sly, sneaky Monty, David Thomas delivers his most challenging yet mature and rewarding portrayal. Having been notably seen at La Comedia in full farcical mode as Buddy in “Elf: The Musical,” Thomas steps up his game here not only as a genuine romantic lead but as an actor who grasps the complexities of Monty’s charming deceit. He understands the importance of having the audience on Monty’s side in spite of the increasing deception and death he sets into motion. Thomas enthusiastically taps into his enjoyment for broad physicality, but the fact that he doesn’t overtly rely on goofiness or slapstick to sell his role is a plus.
LOVELY LEADING LADIES
As Monty ascends, he’s ultimately caught in a love triangle with high society-seeker Sibella Hallward (KatieAnn Bonavita) and Henry’s sister Phoebe D’Ysquith (Hannah Hensler). Beautifully costumed in Victorian attire by Emercita Erb and Maridee Alexander, both sopranos offer lovely portrayals and vocals. Bonavita, recently seen as Ariel in La Comedia’s outstanding “The Little Mermaid,” shines in “I Don’t Know What I’d Do Without You” and “Poor Monty.” Hensler nicely showcases her vocal range during “Inside Out” opposite Thomas. The ladies winningly unite late in Act 2 for a gorgeous rendition of “That Horrible Woman.”
A FUN, MELODIC AND OPERATIC SCORE
Freedman and Lutvak create a melodic, English music hall score that arises as an operatic throwback to Gilbert and Sullivan with a nod to Rupert Holmes (“The Mystery of Edwin Drood”) and a pinch of Maury Yeston (“Titanic,” “Phantom,” “Nine”) added for good measure. Highlights include the savvy, innuendo-filled “Better With a Man” (sung to the hilt by Beiser and Thomas), haunting ballad “Sibella,” witty “Why Are All the D’Ysquiths Dying?” (sung by the small, cohesive ensemble notably including funny ladies Karie-Lee Sutherland as Miss Shingle and Tina Shatto as Lady Eugenia) and wonderfully comedic “I’ve Decided to Marry You.”
AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE SOMETHING NEW
If you’re a theatergoer tired of seeing shows you’ve already seen numerous times through the years, now is your opportunity to support an acclaimed yet little-known work relatively new to the Miami Valley. With chaos in today’s news, “Love and Murder” is a perfectly silly summertime escape.
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HOW TO GO
What: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”
Where: La Comedia Dinner Theatre, 765 W. Central Ave., Springboro
When: Through Sept. 19; Performances are Thursday through Sunday evenings with matinees on Thursday, Friday and Sunday
Cost: $65-$76; $35 for kids 11 and under
Tickets: Call 1-800-677-9505 or 937-746-4554 or visit lacomedia.com