"It was hard, very hard [to do]," says Tresnjak."I loved the people who were involved in the show. All of them are close to my heart: the ones who are on stage now — which I adore — and the ones in Hartford." For perspective, Tresnjak says "things come around," citing an example of not being able to cast actress Kate Forbes in an earlier project "but I didn't forget about her." He cast her as Lady Macbeth in the recent Hartford Stage production.
Barnett was replaced by Bryce Pinkham, a Yale School of Drama grad, who was featured in the Broadway musicals "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" and "Ghost" as well as playing Brother in Hartford Stage's "The Orphans' Home Cycle."
"Everyone was very positive to me," says Pinkham. "I also recognize I'm the latest of many actors who have played and will play Monty. It's not lost on me how lucky I am."
Did Parnes think of hiring a director with Broadway experience?
"Not for a second,' says Parnes "As great as the show was written by Robert and Steven, what Darko had done was so obvious in the production in Hartford. There wasn't a question in my mind that he was incapable of bearing the Broadway burden."
When Tresnjak is asked about the difference between staging the show in Hartford and Broadway, his answer is immediate.
"Seven and a half million dollars,' he says. "When people give to Hartford Stage it's done philanthropically. But this is a different feeling. Also, in Hartford, I'm director and artistic director — the producer, Here, Joey is my boss."
And that relationship?
"We've been remarkably on the same page and I hear that's rare," he says. "What I feared most didn't happen at all.
Was directing on Broadway a goal for the Yugoslavia-born director who immigrated to this country with his mother when he was 10?
"The dream of a Broadway musical is huge in people's minds and it was in mine," he says. "This was a wonderful surprise. What a wonderful perk for falling in love with a show."
It's also a perk for Hartford Stage. Managing director Michael Stotts says the show will further raise Hartford Stage's national profile. across the country.
"The fact that we originated it is an artistic accomplishment," says Stotts, "and that Darko did this in his inaugural year season, too. But it also reflects well in the direction he wants to take Hartford Stage. Hopefully our commitment to do new musicals will now have some traction in the community."
And what if "Murder" makes a killing on Broadway?
The theater will receive a small share of the profits from the Broadway show and future productions, says Stotts. The income can be a modest amount or — depending on the future life of the show — can be a windfall. (Goodspeed Musical's royaties from blockbuster "Annie" was famously in the millions but a hit of that scale is rare.) "We're not counting on it or budgeting for it. But if it does well, there will be nice financial upside for us."
A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER: now in previews, opens Sunday, Nov. 17 at the Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 48th St., New York. Running time is 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one intermission. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets at $50 to $147, not including fees at Telecharge at 212-239-6200. Information: www.agentlemansguidebroadway.com