A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Sunday Reading Series, and Inherit the Wind

Monty (Aric Martin) is torn between the affections of Sibella (Amy Coles) and Phoebe (Lyndsay Palmer) in A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER by Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse. (Photo credit: Gloria Plunkett)

By Shari Barrett

Kentwood Players proudly presents the Tony Award winning musical A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER on Friday, November 10 through Saturday, December 9, 2023, on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm. Saturday matinees at 2:00pm will be added on November 18 and continue through the rest of the run. There will be no performances Thanksgiving weekend, November 24, 25 and 26. Performances take place at the Westchester Playhouse, located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90045. The non-equity, all-volunteer production is directed by Catherine Rahm with choreography by Alison Boole, produced by Jeremy Palmer and Grace O’Neill for Kentwood Players with rights secured from Music Theatre International. 

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is the knock-‘em-dead, uproarious hit and the most nominated show of the 2014 season. When the low-born Monty Navarro finds out that he’s eighth in line for an earldom in the lofty D’Ysquith family, he figures his chances of outliving his predecessors are slight and sets off down a far more ghoulish path. But can he knock off his unsuspecting relatives without being caught and become the ninth Earl of Highhurst? And what of love? Because murder isn’t the only thing on Monty’s mind…

The roles of Monty, D’Ysquith, Sibella and Phoebe are double-cast, with all actors appearing in all performances as ensemble members when not in the four leading roles. The Love Cast features Aric Martin, Jon Sparks, Amy Coles, and Lyndsay Palmer, appearing on Fri 11/10 (8pm), Sun 11/12 (2pm), Fri 11/17 (8pm), Sat 11/18 (2pm), Sat 12/2 (8pm), Sun 12/3 (2pm), Sat 12/9 (8pm). The Murder Cast features Charles Keppler, Michael Mullen, Lauryn Muraida, and Ashlee Elizabeth, appearing on Sat 11/11 (8pm), Sat 11/18 (8pm), Sun 11/19 (2pm), Fri 12/1 (8pm), Sat 12/2 (2pm), Fri 12/8 (8pm), Sat 12/9 (2pm). Appearing in all performances are Elizabeth Bouton Summerer as Miss Shingle, and ensemble members Isabella Francisco, Samuel Goldman, Kelly Gresalfi, Ethan Mullen, Kim Peterson, James Rice.

Reserved seat tickets are $30 with a $4 discount for seniors and students, available online at www.kentwoodplayers.org, by emailing the box office at boxoffice@kentwoodplayers.org -or calling (310) 645-5156. All box office emails and messages will be answered in the order received to confirm your ticket order. Group rates for 10 or more at $23 per person can be arranged with the box office. Based on availability, $10 rush tickets will be available at the box office on Saturday, November 18 for the 2 p.m. performance that day only.

Kentwood Players will be celebrating its 74th Anniversary in January 2024 with the following productions to be presented during the year at the Westchester Playhouse: Private Lives by Noel Coward January 19 to February 10; Steel Magnolias March 15 to April 16; Once on This Island musical May 10 to June 8; Fools by Neil Simon July 19 to August 10; Misery September 13 to October 5; and The Producers musical November 15 to December 14. Season tickets for six consecutive productions are available for $95 via the box office.

Kentwood Players also presents Sunday Reading Series plays on select Sundays at 7 p.m. at the Westchester Playhouse, located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Los Angeles 90045. Upcoming readings include The Norma Chronicles by Rom Watson on Sunday, November 19; Jane Austen in 48 Minutes by Syrie James on Sunday, December 3; A Place to Land by Neil Konigsberg on Sunday, January 28, 2024; and Paradoxical by Alan Stillson on Sunday, March 24. All readings are open to the public free of charge with donations accepted, More info a https://kentwoodplayers.org/special.aspx.

For more information about Kentwood Players including our current production, upcoming auditions, and shows, visit www.kentwoodplayers.org. You can also find more information on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube. Another way to learn more about Kentwood Players and its members is to attend in-person membership meetings, which are free to the public and held on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., Los Angeles 90045. Come on down and find out more about the almost 74 years old and going strong community theater group and how you can get involved as a volunteer! 

John Douglas Thompson and Alfred Molina star as opposing attorneys in INHERIT THE WIND. (Photo credit: Jeff Lorch)

Pasadena Playhouse, the State Theater of California, presents a fresh take on Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s INHERIT THE WIND, helmed by celebrated Los Angeles director Michael Michetti, featuring a cast of 17 led by Alfred Molina as Henry Drummond, John Douglas Thompson as Matthew Harrison Brady, and Chris Perfetti as reporter E.K. Hornbeck. The production also features Abubakr Ali as Bertram Cates, David Aaron Baker as Reverend Jeremiah Brown, and Rachel Hilson as Rachel Brown whose faith in her father and intellectual support of her friend Bertram force her to examine both sides as the trial ensues.

The play is a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial, which resulted in John T. Scopes’ conviction for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to a high school science class, contrary to a Tennessee state law. Drawing intense national attention in the media with writer E. K. Hornbeck reporting, two of the nation’s leading lawyers go head-to-head in the ultimate battle of wit, wisdom, and will in this powerful drama, with Matthew Harrison Brady for the prosecution, and Henry Drummond for the defense. And with freedom of speech hanging in the balance, the struggle to have each side openly accept the other proves to be too much for one of the attorneys. 

This fresh production of Inherit the Wind boldly reimagined for today will make you rethink what you know and dare you to question just how much society has or has not changed when it comes to the struggle between faith and science. Director Michetti’s vision includes giving audience members the option of being part of the action with onstage seating in the courtroom gallery as well as the jury box located at the foot of the stage, thus enabling them to become personally immersed in the trial.

But it is Molina and Thompson who set the stage on fire with their driving portrayals of the two attorneys as they battle each other in the courtroom in Act II. And though it seems there is no way Cates will win his right to teach Darwin’s Origin of the Species, Drummond keeps his cool when his witnesses are denied the right to give scientific testimony in the face of Brady delivering his deepfelt belief in the power of God to create all things. Molina and Thompson are spellbinding along with each member of the ensemble cast, and director Michetti is to be commended for bringing such a powerful piece of theater to the stage in a time when religious and cultural beliefs are clashing to the point of war.

Performances continue at the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena 91101 through Sunday, November 26 on Tuesday-Friday evenings at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. No performance on Thursday, November 23. Tickets start at $35, available at PasadenaPlayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-7529, or in person at the Pasadena Playhouse Box Office, located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena 91101.