MURDER FOR TWO MOVES TO NEW WORLD STAGES
By: Patrick Christiano
Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair’s musical parody, Murder for Two, is a delightfully zany send-up of the classic whodunit directed with expert precision by Scott Schwartz. The clever cabaret styled vaudeville like show transferred to New World Stages following a sold out run at Second Stage Theatre Uptown, where the musical was extended twice after the official opening. The hilarious 90 minute musical mystery spoof with only two actors playing all the parts, as well as the piano, is a silly madcap evening of fun, mined for every possible laugh.
The vivacious Brett Ryback plays Marcus, a small town detective investigating a murder, and the lanky Jeff Blumenkrantz, a tall balding guy with Bette Davis eyes and glasses, plays all ten suspects. The two energetic actors never let the air out of the unfolding laugh-out-loud intrigue. We know one of Blumenkrantz’s characters murdered the novelist Arthur Whitney in his New England mansion, but which one? The dead man’s wife Dahlia, a southern belle who resented her husband for forcing her to give up her exciting stage career is a prime suspect as well as his mistress Barrette Lewis, a famous ballerina. If the songs are not all that memorable, the actors win us over nonetheless with their animated performances.
Director Scott Schwartz scores the biggest laughs with his actors using only the most minimal props. The piano, however, is the catalyst for the evening’s most engaging moments in the non- stop chaotic little musical. The two actors share piano time for great effect. When Blumenkrantz moves into the spotlight as one of the suspects singing a repressed emotion or an alibi, Ryback supports him on the piano. Then when Ryback is center stage to bring together one of the story’s plot lines, Blumenkrantz takes to the keyboard with equal skill. Sometimes they both share the piano bench running their fingers up and down the Steinway baby grand’s ivories. And that they are both musical theater composers adds another layer of expertise to their already extraordinary chemistry.
The streamlined production features scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Andrea Lauer, lighting design by Jason Lyons, Choreograhy by Wendy Seyb, and razor sharp sound design by Jill BC Du Boff that is simply perfect.
Murder for Two is now playing at New World Stages, 340 West 50th, between 8th and 9th Avenues. For tickets call 646-871-1730 or go www.murderfortwomusical.com
Photos: Joan Marcus