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SFCM Students Slay in 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder'

SFCM Opera and Musical Theatre's performance of 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder' took student singers to new levels—vocally and comedically.

March 4, 2024 by Mark Taylor

Despite its lethal premise, SFCM's latest Opera and Musical Theatre production delivered death with a lot of laughs, show tunes, and killer vocals. 

The zany musical is about a penniless Monty Navarro (SFCM's Seth Hanson) who murders eight relatives, all performed with an operatic wink, so he can inherit the family fortune, the country estate, and the title that comes with it. 

sfcm opera and musical theatre.

The ensemble cast on stage with Seth Hanson (Center right, pictured).

"For the longest time, we were curious to see how the audience would react to certain jokes, moments, and characters within the show," Seth Hanson ('24) said of the production, "We were overjoyed to see the response and laughter from the audience," he continued, "The audience loved it when we broke the fourth wall, whether it was a moment of foreshadowing or satire. It correlated very well with the direction given to us by Michael Mohammed (stage director) and Michael Horsley (conductor) amazingly." The show delivered two performances in mid-February. Hanson is a student of Matthew Worth at SFCM.

SFCM's Cora-Melin Mikat and Seth Hanson.

SFCM's Cora-Melin Mikat and Seth Hanson.

For Mohammed, it was important to give voice students new opportunities to expand their skills, "Over the last few years, the Opera Program team has been building richer experiences for students with the Musical Theatre Ensemble," Mohammed said. The show challenged nearly every aspect of the production with almost fifty different scenes: "Everyone was on their toes from tip to tail!" he added. 

SFCM Opera and Musical Theatre

The performance included more than 50 scene changes.

From an educational standpoint, Mohammed hopes voice students were able to flex their musical talents in a new way, "In general, opera is an art form that tells stories through music-forward modes and dynamic vocalism. Theatre relies on text and narrative to push stories forward. Working in the genre of musical theatre helps the student-artist expose themself to other ways that they can express themselves," he said.

In addition to Hanson, whose character was in literally every scene, SFCM's Cora-Melin Mikat played eight characters throughout the show, (Members of the ill-fated D’Ysquith family) and Madison Barton also played several characters throughout the show. "It was kind of a mad dash to the finish line, but both shows went so well and we were so proud of ourselves for pulling it off! It is a beast of a show," Barton said. 

sfcm cast performs

Some students portrayed several characters in the show.

The production set out to tell a story with a villainous but loveable lead that concertgoers could root for, which is no easy task, but one that was met with a standing ovation from audiences. "The biggest lesson I learned is that you must always be in the moment. Even when breaking the fourth wall to the audience, you have to be present and treat the audience almost as your scene partner," Hanson continued. "They're always listening, and it's up to us to convey the information, the story, and your character to give the audience a night (or two) they will always remember."

Learn more about studying Opera and Musical Theatre at SFCM.