"A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” the latest musical in the City Springs Theatre Company’s 2019-20 season, has been described as “wickedly funny” by Googie Uterhardt, one of the actors in the production.
“I think probably the biggest thing is it’s a comedy about murder and it is very funny in that you start realizing all these characters that are dying off all have a resemblance because the same actor plays the parts. That’s one of the biggest things for me,” said Uterhardt who plays the eight D’Ysquith heirs in the musical coming March 6 through 15 to the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, also known as the Byers Theatre.
“A Gentleman’s Guide” is based on Roy Horniman’s 1907 novel “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal.” The musical debuted in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2012 and on Broadway the following year.
In 2014, in addition to taking home the Tony for best musical, it won for best director (Darko Tresnjak), best book (Robert Freedman) and best costume design (Linda Cho).
“A Gentleman’s Guide” is about Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who decides to leap the succession line by any means necessary. In the process he must juggle his mistress, who wants more than his love, his fiancée, who’s also a distant cousin, and the constant threat of being jailed.
Uterhardt said juggling eight characters is quite a task.
“I do believe eight is a record,” he said. “I’ve worked with the director, Brandt Blocker, on ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ and the fellow who plays the dentist also plays five other characters in the show. It was a challenge, but each of the characters have quite a bit to do.
“I guess it’s a challenge making each one of them different. I got a note from the director last night about varying the vocals on each character, which can be a challenge, and I do play two women. Getting a vocal choice with the women is interesting. … One has a lower-pitched voice, so I have to kind of pick a voice that works in that key. Vocally it’s a challenge and physically it’s a challenge.”
Actress Katherine McLaughlin, who plays Phoebe D’Ysquith, said watching Uterhardt take on eight roles is like “watching gymnastics.”
“It’s so much fun,” she said. “The physical humor, it has that sort of ‘Monty Python’ feel to it. It’s like Gilbert and Sullivan meet ‘Monty Python,’ because you have that old sensibility, but you also have that slapstick, ridiculous comedy. The D’Ysquiths provide that element. That really makes the show. But it’s so fun to sing this music because it’s … so challenging. This is my second time doing it, so I’m thrilled to have another stab at it.”
Uterhardt, who grew up in several cities along the East Coast and lives in Doraville, has performed in several plays and musicals in metro Atlanta, including “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” and “Moonlight and Magnolias,” both at the Georgia Ensemble Theatre in Roswell in 2018 and last year, respectively.
McLaughlin, a native of Orange County, California, lives in New York. She previously performed in Broadway’s “School of Rock,” which ended a three-year, two-month run there in January 2019. McLaughlin has also performed in several other musicals in New York and other states.
Both actors said “A Gentleman’s Guide” is full of surprises.
“It’s an exciting night out at the theater with lots of twists and turns,” Uterhardt said. “People are not going to be ready for what happens in the show.”
Said McLaughlin, “It’s going to be a night of theater you’re not going to forget, and you’re going to laugh your face off. People are surprised when they come at how funny it actually is. ... It’s a low-brow British comedy that is hilarious and doesn’t take itself too seriously."
Tickets are $30 to $65, with discounts for seniors, students, groups and active and retired military personnel. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.cityspringstheatre.com or call 404-477-4365.