Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime is a new musical written by Kirby & Beverly Ward and based on the Oscar Wilde short story. It started life in 2012 as a second-year project at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in New York City. As a result of that twenty minute presentation the show was invited to the Wilton Playshop in Southwestern Connecticut. On September 28th, 2013, and with minimal rehearsal, the entire show debuted to two very appreciative audiences in an informal”reading” format.
After further development at the York Theatre in Manhattan, Lord Arthur was selected by the Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington to be one of five musicals presented at their 2014 annual Festival of New Works. For the festival, the show’s title was changed to Deadly Beloved.
Since then, the original Oscar Wilde title has been restored and the show is now making the rounds for a producer.
Below is a synopsis and demo recordings of the score.
With only a fortnight until his wedding to the beautiful Sybil Merton, Lord Arthur Savile attends a society party where a palm reader named Podgers foretells an ominous event in his future: he will murder someone. Stunned, Lord Arthur fears a happy marriage is impossible in light of this news. His concerns are compounded the next morning when a series of frightening mishaps make it clear that he may in fact murder his darling Sybil if he doesn’t act quickly. With the help of his trusted manservant, Saunders, Arthur decides the only conscientious course of action is to kill someone right away.
He determines poison is the safest method, and his aged second cousin Lady Clementina Clarke the ideal subject. After presenting her with a poison pill disguised as the latest cure for her chronic indigestion, Lord Arthur postpones his wedding and travels to Italy where he impatiently awaits the news of her passing. When word of her death comes, an exultant Arthur returns to London and his Sybil, only to find that Lady Clem has actually died of natural causes.
Distraught, Arthur again postpones his wedding and seeks the advice of his friend and acclaimed revolutionary, Igor Ivanovich. Igor suggests a bomb. The new target? Arthur’s obnoxious uncle, the Dean of Chichester. But his plan fizzles when the bomb goes off with an impotent little pop. Rather than killing the Dean, the device only amuses him.
A wretched Arthur concludes the only certain way to fulfill the prophecy and his duty to Sybil is to kill himself. He rushes to the Tower bridge to end it all but is interrupted by Podgers, the very man who has ruined his life. Ironically, the palm reader is also preparing to commit suicide. Arthur and Podgers come to blows, and Podgers is revealed to be a phony. Realizing what a fool he’s been for putting his faith in a charlatan’s predictions, Arthur resolves to take his life back into his own hands and marry Sybil immediately. Before leaving, he tries to pull Podgers to his safety, but Podgers lashes out at Arthur, losing his footing and falling to his death.
Was Arthur responsible for the man’s death? Was Podgers’ prediction right all along? Either way, Arthur is free! He happily races off to marry his beloved.