SALT LAKE CITY — Running a marathon probably wasn’t what actor Dallyn Vail Bayles thought he was signing up for when he auditioned for Hale Centre Theatre’s upcoming production of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” but a marathon was what he got.
Bayles, an actor recognized by local audiences for his portrayal of Hyrum Smith in the film “Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration,” won’t be running a literal marathon, but as he tackles eight different roles in just over two hours, his performance feels a bit like a race.
“There are certain scenes where you'll see me as one character, I go off stage and literally two lines later, I'll come on completely dressed as a new character,” Bayles said in an interview. "Man, I have to really build up my stamina to play this role — it is exhausting — (but) it's a thrilling race.”
Simply pronouncing the names of Bayles’ eight characters — known collectively as the D’Ysquith Family — could leave you out of breath: Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith, Lord Asquith D’Ysquith Sr., Asquith D’Ysquith Jr., Major Lord Bartholomew D’Ysquith, Henry D’Ysquith, Reverend Lord Ezekial D’Ysquith, Lady Salome D’Ysquith Pumphrey and Lady Hyacinth D’Ysquith.
“This is probably the most challenging role I've ever played, honestly, but it's therefore probably one of the most thrilling roles I've ever played as an actor,” Bayles said of his role in “A Gentleman’s Guide,” which runs on HCT’s Jewel Box Stage Jan. 11-March 16.
The 2014 Tony Award winner for best musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” makes its regional premiere at HCT. The comedy tells the story of Montague “Monty” Navarro, a no-name Englishman who finds out he’s in the line of succession to become an earl. With eight people ahead of him in succession, Monty decides to help things along a bit by getting rid of the relatives blocking his path to wealth.
“It's a fun romp with a lot of really great music. It's done in the style of this operetta, kind of Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, a lot of pastiche, but a lot of witty turn of phrases and some fun, fun characters,” he said. “It sounds like a dark comedy, but it's a lot of fun and a great comedy — emphasis on the comedy.”
Bayles plays all eight of the relatives in Monty’s way in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast (his counterpart in the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday cast is Robert Moffat).
“It was a very important comedic element to keep all those characters played by the same person,” Bayles said. “That's just kind of funny unto itself you know — that adds a real fun charm to the show because … they're all part of the same family, they're all this same kind of breed that he's trying to knock off.”
One of the hardest parts of playing the D’Ysquith family, according to Bayles, is finding a way to differentiate the eight characters beyond costuming alone.
"One of the fun challenges as an actor approaching this role has been trying to figure out a different voice, a different characterization, a different physicality for each one of these characters to distinguish them,” he said.
Bayles runs the gamut through each of what he calls the “broadly drawn” characters, including a dandy, a blustering earl, a high-bred lord, a terrible actress, a socialite who is charitable for all the wrong reasons and a “slightly inebriated reverend.”
“I just adore (each of them). I mean they're just hilarious and they're a lot of fun to play,” he said. “(Trying to pick a favorite) is kind of like trying to choose your favorite child: You just love them all. They're all distinct and different and they all have qualities you just love.”
Although Utah audiences likely recognize Bayles for more serious roles — including his role in “The Prophet of the Restoration,” as a frequent guest soloist with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and for recent roles in local productions such as Chauvelin in HCT’s 2018 production of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and Hale Center Theater Orem’s 2016 production of “Jane Eyre” — comedy is something Bayles enjoys performing. He said he performed quite a bit of comedy while studying at Brigham Young University and during his time at the Boston Conservatory.Comment on this story
"It's true: My forte is kind of living in the dramatic and I really enjoy that, but … I love comedy … because it's a different energy. … It's so fun to give that kind of high-energy performance, and it's fun to just be silly, and that's really what this musical is about,” he said. “I love these kind of challenges that take me out of the thing that I normally do.”
If you go …
What: Hale Centre Theatre’s “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”
When: Jan. 11-March 16, dates and times vary
Where: HCT’s Jewel Box Stage at the Mountain America Performing Arts Centre, 9900 S. Monroe St., Sandy
How much: $36-44 for adults, $18-22 for youths ages 5-17