NEPA the­ater group sea­son opens with Tony Award- win­ning mu­si­cal

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - News - BY CAITLIN HEANEY WEST STAFF WRITER cwest@timessham­rock. com; 570- 348- 9100, ext. 5107

Broad­way The­atre League of North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia found an apro­pos tale to open its sea­son on Fri­day the 13th.

“AGentle­man’s Guide To Love& Mur­der,” the 2014 TonyAward win­ner for best mu­si­cal, comes to Scran­ton Cul­tural Cen­ter at The Ma­sonic Tem­ple, 420N. Wash­ing­tonAve., for four shows from to­day through Sun­day.

And­while this story of aman seek­ing to kill off the rel­a­tiveswho stand in his way of in­her­it­ing a for­tune might sound dark, star Colleen McLaughlin as­sured that the mu­si­cal has a lighter side with lots of laughs. Robert Freed­man and Steven Lut­vak­wrote a com­plex, bril­liant show­stocked with jokes, she ex­plained re­cently by phone from the tour’s stop in Madi­son, Wis­con­sin.

“The writ­ing is just so in­cred­i­ble, but you can’t help but laugh about ev­ery­thing,” saidMcLaugh­lin, an Ok­la­homa na­tive. “The whole en­tire cast is just laugh­ing. I come out to the wings just to see some of my fa­vorite scenes.”

Set in Lon­don in 1909, the show cen­ters around­work­ing- class man Mon­tyNavarro ( Blake Price), who, af­ter learn­ing he is ninth in line to be­come an earl, de­cides to elim­i­nate the rel­a­tives between him and the aris­to­cratic ti­tle. All the­while he hopes to marry McLaughlin’s char­ac­ter, Si­bella Hall­ward.

“I’m kind of this nar­cis­sis­tic girl and kind of a gold dig­ger, so I don’t want to marry him, and he thinks the only way he can winmy hand in mar­riage is to be­come the Earl of High­hurst,” she said of the role.

Ac­tor James Tay­lorO­dom, mean­while, por­trays all eight mem­bers of the D’Ysquith fam­ily who be­come Navarro’s tar­gets.

“Ev­ery scene that James Tay­lor Odom is in is pretty in­cred­i­ble. ... He’s amaz­ing,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin praised the sets for the show, which she de­scribed as beau­ti­ful, in­tri­cate and spe­cific to the char­ac­ters, but she also noted that Peggy Hickey’s chore­og­ra­phy “is pretty in­cred­i­ble.” One song she ex­pects to blow­away au­di­ences is “I’ve De­cided To Marry You,” whose chore­og­ra­phy in­volves ac­tors en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing through dou­ble doors as one char­ac­ter tries to keep two oth­ers apart.

“The chore­og­ra­phy is so spe­cific. ... The re­hearsal process was ac­tu­ally re­ally quick, but I think ... each of us had to go home and prac­tice with the doors in our apart­ment just to get it down per­fectly,” McLaughlin said. “It was a process but en­joy­able.”

The ac­tor­sworked with a di­alect coach to per­fect their Bri­tish ac­cents, but McLaughlin noted learn­ing the songs also posed a chal­lenge.

“The mu­sic is beau­ti­ful,” McLaughlin said. “( It is a) beau­ti­ful score but re­ally in­tri­cate, and your dic­tion kind of has to be on point.”

“AGentle­man’s Guide” opened on Broad­way in Novem­ber 2013 and racked up more than 900 per­for­mances be­fore clos­ing in Jan­uary 2016. In ad­di­tion to best mu­si­cal, it picked up TonyAwards for best di­rec­tor of amu­si­cal ( Darko Tres­n­jak), best book ( Freed­man) and best cos­tume de­sign ( Linda Cho).

McLaughlin de­scribed the show as “very thrilling” with “lots of shenani­gans.”

“It’s just a night full of laugh­ter,” she said.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

“A Gen­tle­man’s Guide to Love & Mur­der,” shown here in a pre­vi­ous na­tional tour, opens Broad­way The­atre League of North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia’s 2017- 18 sea­son this week­end.

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