EXCLUSIVE interview with Chuck Ragsdale of A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder

This week the Orpheum will be opening “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder”, a comedy that recently won the Tony for best musical. The show comes midway through the theater’s Broadway season, and is a welcomed comedy. The story is also a bit irreverent as it features a man determined to land his family’s fortune, even if eight people have to be taken out in the process.

I spoke with Chuck Ragsdale who is a “Swing” cast member (more info on what the role involves later in the interview) about how he became involved in the show and what audiences can expect! Read on for more, with tickets  and showtimes at the end of the story!

Hi Chuck! How did you become involved in A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder?

When I first saw the show on Broadway I was punching my husband in the arm all throughout the first act. Punching him as in “THIS SHOW IS AMAZING AND I NEED TO BE IN IT.” I distinctly remember thinking how I couldn’t absorb the piece fast enough. It was like an ether. When auditions for the tour rolled around, I was working out of town and sent in a video submission for my initial appointment. Luckily the call back landed on my day off that week and I was able to pop back into New York, have a work session with casting, and then be seen by the entire creative team. After a brief waiting game, that was it, I got an offer! I’m so grateful that things worked out for me to be a part of this amazing piece of theater. It truly is a dream come true.

 For readers who may not know as much about this show, how would you pitch it?

Monty Navarro discovers he is a distant heir to a great fortune and title, so he sets out to remove the eight distant relatives who stand in his way of inheriting the vast D’Ysquith fortune. The show is chock full of hilarious and eccentrically self-centered characters, many of whom are comedically knocked off one-by-one. The audience laughs out loud and cheers as Monty climbs his way to the top.

scene from ‘A Gentleman’s Guide’

What kind of challenges did you face when first rehearsing and touring the show?

We were actually quite fortunate that the Broadway company had sort of done all of the grunt work for us. They had two very successful regional productions before bringing it into New York. The creative team was very open about creating the show freshly on us, not just a replication of what had been done in the Broadway company. We also had brand new sets and costumes built just for us. We’re fancy.

What musicals have influenced your love for theatre?

I’m admittedly a proud musical theater nerd, so I find this question quite unfair, but I’ll pick ONE. My mother had taken me to a production of “A Chorus Line” when I was young (it was the PG version) and I remember turning to her during intermission and saying “I want to do that.” Now, while musical comedy is my jam, hard-core leotard wearing kick-line dancing is NOT, but to this day “A Chorus Line” remains in my top 5. It’s an ageless love letter about the passion and heartache of being a performer.

How would you describe “Gentleman’s Guide’s” brand of comedy? Is it for everyone?

Quick, cheeky, and dangerously clever. It is most certainly for everyone. I actually find that the audiences who don’t know much about our show are the best ones. Let’s just put it this way, they don’t hand out Tony Awards for not being funny.

What have you learned being a part of this show?

“Gentleman’s Guide” is a character actor’s dream show, but it’s also a great challenge in keeping us all constantly on top of our game. The show is thickly laced with wonderfully witty lines, stealth innuendo, and ridiculous situations all of which incite different reactions from different audiences. As no two shows are ever the same, it’s important for the actors to remain flexible to that relationship.

Can you explain what a Swing does? How many roles do you cover? What is your favorite role?

A swing is an offstage understudy that covers specific roles dictated by our contracts, usually ensemble, but all of our four swings also cover principle roles. I cover three ensemble tracks and the D’Ysquith Family which is played by one actor and consists of no less than nine characters. It’s a tall order to fill! The D’Ysquith Family is my favorite- it’s a marathon of a work out, but just so damn fun.

How do you hope audiences feel after leaving the show?

I hope that they leave our show in pain from laughing and satisfied that they have been a part of something that they’ve never seen before. And that they’ll tell their friends these feelings and those friends will then buy tickets.


A Gentleman’s Guide opens February 9-14 with plenty of chances to see the show! Expect a full review from me this week!


• Tuesday, February 9, 2016 7:30 PM

• Wednesday, February 10, 2016 7:30 PM

• Thursday, February 11, 2016 7:30 PM

• Friday, February 12, 2016 8:00 PM

• Saturday, February 13, 2016 2:00 PM

• Saturday, February 13, 2016 8:00 PM

• Sunday, February 14, 2016 1:00 PM

• Sunday, February 14, 2016 6:30 PM

TICKETS: $25 – $125

BOX OFFICE: 901.525.3000

GROUP SALES: 901.529.4226

WEB: http://www.orpheum-memphis.com


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