Saturday, November 21, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Review Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Review 

Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

by Joanne Quinn-Smith

Lights, action, camera, well 3-D projection and pure entertainment!  That was The Tony® Award winner for Best Musical," Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder,"   Benedum through November 22, 2015.  From the very first scene where a snapshot is taken of a group of turn of the century mourners in black to the gay entourage at the end of the performance, the show is pure musical comedy perfection.  "A Warning to the Audience" sets the pace for the entire musical.  "You're a D'Ysquith by Miss Shingle (Mary Van Ardel) and Monty (Kevin Massey)  is even more compelling by the fact that the name is so incredibly hard to pronounce.

The plot portrays the hysterical odyssey of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family whose only impediment to becoming an earl is eight cousins in front of him.  Add to that one femme fatale,Sibella Hallward (Kristen Beth Williams), his fiancé and one ingenue, Phoebe D'Ysquith (Adrienne Eller), his cousin (no one seems to care) and you have an instant love triangle amidst the intrigue. Oh and there is the little drawback of possibly getting caught while he engineers their early demise. And all this is done amidst turn of the century proprieties and few scene changes thanks to modern technology that looks somewhere between cartoonish and genius but always delightful and humorous.

The projection designer, Aaron Rhyne adds more than his share of quality to the production with the simulation of skaters falling through ice, a cleric climbing up and falling from a church tower and splattering to the ground, complete with bloody splatter. IN A MUSICAL ON STAGE, the effect is amazing.
Despite the comedy, the musical element of the show from the live orchestra to the performers was excellent.  Some of the crowd favorite numbers,  "Oh, why are all the D'Ysquiths dying?" "I've Decide to Marry You," with the double door scene of Sibella, Phoebe and Monty is a mastery of vocal excellence and staging.  And "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun" by Lord Aldelbert and Company is excellently staged and performed.

In addition to John  Rapson as the D’Ysquith heirs (all eight of them) and Massey as Monty Navarro, the cast of A Gentleman's Guide includes Kristen Beth Williams as Sibella Hallward, Adrienne Eller as Phoebe D’Ysquith and Mary VanArsdel as Miss Shingle. John Rapson has to be the absolute king of musical comedy and of multi portrayal rolls.  What a hoot. Kevin Massey as Monty Navarro is not only a great actor but has an exquisite voice.  

There are also moments of grandeur with the chorus.  Kristen Beth Williams is not only sensuous but has moments of comic genius as Sibella.  Quite frankly there are too many moments of brilliance among all of the characters.  It's easy to see why a Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder is the most celebrated musical of the 2013-14 Broadway season

For additional info and tickets:

Joanne Quinn-Smith, Award winning internet radio broadcaster, blogger, author and internet radio and TV network editor and publisher. Joanne is the owner and CEO, Creative Energy Officer, of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, a successful Pittsburgh-based marketing company. Joanne is internationally known as the “Get Your Google On” Gal. But better known as Techno Granny™ to over one million accumulated online listeners worldwide. Joanne has created a revolutionary online NEW MEDIA platform in Internet broadcasting, blogging and other social media participation. JQS is the online publisher of, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers. PPL Mag is Pittsburgh’s First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Season Opener of PBT, an Eye Opener

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Season Opener of PBT, an Eye Opener


Sinfionetta pas de deux
Thursday evening October 22, 2015 The Benedum Theater was a buzz with the sound of show.  Swarming the stage were dancers in leotards and leggings, the slender frames of dancers bodies stretching and leaping across the stage with long lean muscles, men and women practicing Pirouettes and an occasional Grand jete across the stage.  The house experimenting with lighting, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater (PBT) orchestra warming up one section at a time for the PBT 2015-2016 full dress rehearsal was open to a select group of press and photographers and I was lucky enough to be invited for a glimpse of the triple bill program which launched Friday October 23, 2015. 
The guests are seated on the mezzanine level overlooking the stage and the pit.  The orchestra warms up, one section at a time, including a full brass section.  The PBT prepares a performance of high energy, emotive and innovative artistic aptitude with a flourish of beauty and grace offering two Pittsburgh premieres Sinfonietta and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated as well as Western Symphony.   The dancers move across the stage with elegance.  Their bodies twist and bend, twirl and leap with technical fluidity to the sounds of pure romanticism. 

The first number, Sinfonietta choreographed by Czech born Jiří Kylián,

introduces the Pittsburgh audience to a ballet with precise footwork, powerful gallops and a sea of green, blue and white dressed dancers who  chase each across the stage to the military music by Czech composer Janáček.   Sinfonietta is recognized as one of the 20th century’s most compelling orchestras and the PBT dancers mimic the movements of horses and birds with animation, their arms and legs in synchronization with the sound of the brass ensemble. 

The second performance on the bill, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, is executed to the sounds of industrial music, and is often referred to as the work which changed ballet forever.  Choreographed by William Forsythe, a visionary of the dance world, the PBT dancers enter the stage in green and black leotards to a stark stage, a simple black drop curtain behind the jolting movements of the dancers’ limbs as they flail in expert timing to the challenging sound of the looping percussion.  The arrangements of the dancers’ bodies to the nontraditional music is intriguing and emotionally charged offering audience members an experience teetering on experimental,  while maintaining a steady showcase of professional form and function.

The third and final piece of the evening, Western Symphony is a lighthearted ballet featuring cowboys and saloon dancers.  Sure to be a show- stopping number, Western Symphony, created by one of the

best known names in modern ballet, George Balanchine.  This number is energetic and the dancers are buoyant.   The ballet is set in an old west town,   the brightly colored costumes trimmed in magenta, scarlet, golden yellow and teal add to the jovial nature of the performance.  The music, arranged by upbeat adds to.  The stage comes alive with dancers, twirling to the sounds of the orchestra, originally arranged by Hershey Kay simulates classic American Folk music and transports the dancers into the frontier.  The Western Symphony is the most classical performance of the evening but still manages to integrate the impression of a typical western themed hoedown, with classical ballet. 

As a prelude to the PBT season, this remarkable show will not disappoint.  The tremendous talent on stage combined with the eclectic choice of performances is an invitation for dance enthusiasts to enjoy a program of high artistic quality.

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski

Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.