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Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder was a mega hit on Broadway. The recipient of four Tony’s, including the coveted Best Musical award in 2014, the show was a huge success. It closed on Broadway almost a year ago, but the show lives on with the National Touring Cast, which is on its way to Music City for a week-long stint at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC)’s Jackson Hall.
It’s a show some people are not as familiar with, so here’s a brief synopsis:
Monty Navarro, who has been poor his entire life, finds out he’s ninth in line to inherit the earldom of D'Ysquith. They are an aristocratic, wealthy family at the end of the Victorian days of England. His mother was disinherited by the family, but Monty hopes that this new-found information will lead him out of poverty and into the arms of his beloved Sibella, a beautiful, somewhat silly, woman who wants to marry for status. He attempts to get a job with the family, but after he’s turned down he decides to take a more proactive approach. What it leads to is a whimsical story of Monty’s attempted ascension to power. Staging, costuming, and one of the wittiest books ever written made it a smash on Broadway.
Chuck Ragsdale, a swing on the cast who also plays the D'Ysquith family (yes, all 8 members of the family are played by one person) took the chance to talk with Out & About Nashville recently to talk about the show. I caught him on his way home from dropping his husband off at the airport. He was with family in North Carolina for Christmas, but was leaving for Baltimore the next day to start the show again. We began with his background.
“I am originally from half an hour south of Raleigh, I was born and raised here. Then I left for college and went to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. And, whereupon graduation, I moved to New York and I’ve been there for many years now. I actually just celebrated my twentieth year there.”
Traveling shows can be a tall order. Actors are rarely home and are in a different city every week. But this life is nothing new for Ragsdale.
“In 2008, I did a national tour that played many of the markets A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (GGLAM) has played. Also, I did that play with one of my castmates from GGLAM. She and I were in that previous tour together. That show was 101 Dalmatians. Not nearly as fancy as my current Tony award winning national tour.
“Having previously toured, I was very familiar with the lifestyle and what it meant, and what the demand was, but also, what the benefits are. But I’ll tell you what attracted me most was: the title. The show itself. This show is one of those pieces that, as an actor, you go and you see on Broadway and you are immediately touched. It immediately resonates with you as an actor. It’s one of those shows you just can’t wait to get your hands on in whatever aspect fate allows. I remember sitting in the Walter Kerr Theater, watching GGLAM beside my husband, and about five minutes into the show I’m killing him with my elbow. I’m responding to everything and making sure he knows I’m responding. At intermission, he says ‘You’re dying, aren’t you?’ and I was. I was absolutely dying. I could not watch the show fast enough. I could not absorb the show any more quickly. It was one of those shows that I loved SO MUCH. It was a vocabulary I spoke and I understood. The style of the show just really resonated with me. I was fortunate enough to land a position in the national tour. That’s why I was attracted to touring. Being able to do this show.
“And that’s no disrespect to our other workhorses in the musical theater industry. The Music Man, The Sound of Music, Grease… Those shows are hits for their own reasons. But we’re A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Nobody’s ever done this. And that is absolutely thrilling! To bring a show this new and this fresh to a touring audience in every major market across the United States? That’s thrilling. That makes you want to pack a bag and jump on a plane.”
He’s right. This show isn’t your typical show. He explains why:
“It’s honestly one of the most beautifully written shows, and I say beautiful in the respect that there’s not one ounce of fat on this show. There’s nothing that doesn’t belong in the show. It has been so expertly crafted with such a keen and loving eye by our amazing creative team that it’s just an absolute treat to actors, to theatre lovers, and really, to people who want something just a little refreshing and different than what they’re used to seeing. It’s very witty. It’s, at times, laugh out loud funny. It’s quickly paced. It’s always a thrill to watch the audience grab on and come with us on this crazy ride. Because, there are only 11 performers in the regular cast, and 15 including myself and the other 3 swings. So we’re a relatively small show. But we all play so many different characters and wear so many different hats. It’s such an absurdly delicious plot that you can’t help but jump in, grab hold, and see where this crazy show takes you.”
His role is very unique. He is a swing, which means he plays several different roles throughout the show, but in a show like this, where the principle roles are so intensive, the principle roles must have something more significant than an understudy. The swings cover these roles to give the principles a break from the demands of these monster roles.
“I cover the D’Ysquith family. Yes. Myself and the incredibly talented David Scott Purdy. There are two male swings and two female swings. And between the four of us, we split the male and female ensemble, then, respectively, we have our own principle covers. The D’Ysquith family is my principle cover, which plays no less than eight family members. It’s a lot!
“It’s one of the most joyous and exhausting experiences I’ve ever had in my career, but I could not be more proud of it. It is so much fun, but it’s the type of fun, that if you keep at it with too much intensity, it’s going to kill you.”
The original actor who portrayed the D’Ysquith family on Broadway, Jefferson Mays, is a very big name on Broadway. This show earned him, as well as Bryce Pinkham (the original Monty Navarro), a nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. These roles are very taxing on an actor. Ragsdale speaks to what it takes to hold these roles:
“You have to have a musical theater athlete to jump into a role like this because it doesn’t stop. Once the show starts, there’s very little rest for either of our two male principles. Monty is almost completely on stage the entire show. And when the D’Ysquith family is not on stage, he’s changing. It is truly a musical theatre marathon, and it’s so thrilling to be a part of it. But it takes a village! It can’t be done without our amazing crew that we travel with. We have our principle dresser, Nadine, and our makeup supervisor, Suzanne, who are part of the family that makes the D’Ysquith family happen. It’s just an incredible team of people who love doing what they do and do it better than anyone else.
When you play 8 characters, some might think you grow fonder of one of them more than the other. Perhaps that isn’t the case with Ragsdale, though. When asked who his favorite D’Ysquith family member is, he responds:
“I get asked this a lot and it changes. It’s like picking your favorite child. And since I only have cats, I can’t really comment on the kid thing. It would be a toss-up between Lady Hyacinth D'Ysquith, and, probably Henry. I love Henry. But I also love Ezekiel, I love the priest! And now, I’m just starting to name all of them and that’s not fair.
“Lady Hyacinth D'Ysquith has my favorite scene though. Monty sends her abroad in search of a proper charitable angle. The production level is so high, by our standards anyway, of ‘Lady Hyacinth Abroad.’ Which is also a very fun little play on words.”
He then talked about how supportive the original creators of the show were, making this unlike national tours that don’t have the same backing from their creators.
“We were lucky. We had our entire original creative team was with us, putting up the tour, we were very fortunate to have them, certainly after GGLAM hit it so big on Broadway. They were very popular and very much in demand. But we had them through the entire rehearsal and tech process, and they do occasionally visit us on the road, which is such a treat because they are adored by our company. But we also had our book writer, Robert Freedman, who spent almost every day in the rehearsal room with us, just sitting behind the table watching our work develop and flourish. He is just a peach, and such a kind and generous man. It was just such a pleasure having him in the room. But even more of a pleasure it was to have the creator of this incredible book and these incredible lyrics be there and share that process with us. And he occasionally visits us on the road as well. I say that to make the point that it’s a show that’s very near and dear to everyone’s heart who has been involved with it at some point in its gestation. And it’s such an honor and privilege to be a tiny part of that.”
The Gay Community in Nashville, and especially those of us who love theater, need to make it out to this show, Ragsdale said.
“[The LGBTQ community] like(s) nice things, we are a very cultured community, we’re a very savvy community, and we’re not above being impressed by pedigree. And our show has four Tony’s behind it. You’re not going to get to see another show like this anywhere. This is a breath of refreshing fresh air… It’s just so damned smart.”
GGLAM is playing January 24-January 29 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. Tickets can be purchased online at https://patron.tpac.org/events/detail/gentlemans-guide-2017-tpac, by calling the box office at 615-782-4040, or by visiting the box office during regular business hours.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.