A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder is a musical comedy based on the 1907 Roy Horniman novel “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal”. This charming toybox theatre-esque production at the Playhouse, was the musicals much anticipated Australian premier.
The main conceit of this musical is that the lead actor, Mitchell Butel, plays nine distinct characters within the story. This results in multiple lightning fast, side-of-stage, costume changes, often with no more than 20 seconds in which to occur. To facilitate these changes, all of Mitchell’s costumes had to be specially constructed with secret zips, poppers and Velcro, requiring a team of two dressers and a wig technician to execute each change.
Every member of the D’Ysquith family was treated in a unique colour, signifying their character and echoing the hand-coloured, black and white photographs of the Edwardian period. These highly detailed costumes were built with crisp starched collars and cuffs, layered with waistcoats, ties, stoles, crucifixes and flounces. These were designed to not only facilitate an instant, single step removal, but also needed to be constructed in a way in which the various components could be separated for ease of laundering. A combo of jacket, waistcoat, shirt and tie was actually engineered to be one single garment.
Likewise, the small ensemble cast had to be dressed to facilitate quick costume changes to create the multitude of supporting characters. Their base costume was in a palate of textured black white and grey, linking them to the illustrated paper theatre aesthetic of the set. A change of waistcoat, a bowtie switch, a button-on frilly yolk and the addition of a straw boater or felt bowler hat, helped the speedy transition of these various roles.
BEHIND THE SEAMS
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Book and Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman
Music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak
Based on the 1907 novel Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal by Roy Horniman
The Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne
The Production Company 2018
PETER GRUBB, KELVIN GEDYE and JOHN SCANDRETT – SYSTEM SOUND
THE PRODUCTION COMPANY ORCHESTRA