Yesterday on June 8, 2014, Examiner.com was on the red carpet for the 68th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York, hosted by Hugh Jackman. The show aired on CBS. "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder" won Best Musical, Best Book Of A Musical and Best Direction of a Musical. We spoke with 2014 Tony Winner Robert L. Freedman and nominee Steven Lutvak exclusively.
Tell me about your nominations.
Steven: We’re nominated for having written "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder." Robert wrote the book, we wrote the lyrics together and I wrote the music.
What inspired the book?
Robert: It’s about a young man named Monty Navarro and who finds out after his mother dies that he is the abandoned heir to a great fortune and title and the only way he could inherit that title and marry the girl he loves and avenge his mother is to bump off every relative that stands in the way and there are eight of them all played by the magnificent actor Jefferson Mays.
Steven: We’re based on a book called "Israel Rank" by Roy Horniman, and that also served as the underlying rights to a famous movie called "Kind Hearts and Coronets." I’ve always been a fan of the film and when was in college I remember watching it in the middle of the night, one night when I wasn’t sleeping and literally bolted up right in bed, and went "Oh my God it’s a musical and it’s mine to write." I tried to get the rights several times and finally did get the rights, called Robert with whom I was working on another project with and we began writing it. Therein began a very long and complicated battle with the film company and ultimately we got rid of everything from the movie and based it solely on the book. That’s the very very short version on where we are now.
Robert: The only important thing he left out is how much fun we had writing it. In spite of how difficult it is to get a show to Broadway and ours was a difficult story, we cracked each other up, we had fun, we used very bad English accents privately of course, and now to hear an audience laugh at stuff we cracked each other up with is such a joy, so gratifying.
Steven: The funny thing is that this musical about a serial killer, was so much fun to write we had the best time doing it. The fun we had writing it seems to directly translate to what happens onstage.
We also spoke with Jonathan Tunick, who was nominated for Best Orchestrations in "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder."
How did you get involved with this particular show?
My wife and I have neighbors in our apartment building who are friends with Steven Lutvak and they've been plugging me to him for years, and finally he became so desperate that he was driven to hire me.
How did you get involved in music?
Well it’s funny you should ask. Right behind, there is a row of windows . This building used to be a Walgreens drugstore, I’m going back a civilization ago, and in the row of offices above was a clarinet teacher. He was in the NBC Symphony and he would run back and forth between NBC and his little studio and give lessons to kids like me. That’s how I started.
What does your role entail?
I adapt the music for the orchestra. I write the part that the musician's play.