|“Murder for Two” runs at New World Stages through July 6.” –credit|
If you haven’t seen the two-person murder mystery Murder for Two, you can catch it until July 6. This mini-musical, written by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, began its life at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, enjoyed an Off-Broadway run in New York City at Second Stage, and now has found a home at New World Stages, where the musical comedy has lots more life to live.
It’s no surprise that Murder for Two has garnered all positive reviews and continually extends its run. The show stars Brett Ryback as Officer Marcus, and Joe Kinosian (who also wrote the book and music) as all of The Suspects. The premise is that famed novelist, Arthur Whitney, is shot at his own surprise birthday party. Officer Marcus, alongside his unseen partner, Lou, is called upon to keep an eye on the suspects before the detective can arrive. However, Officer Marcus has high hopes of promotion, and thus follows the protocol to the letter, gathering clues and alibis, in hopes of impressing the Police Chief.
|Proverbs from Marcus may help solve the mystery –credit|
Among the many suspects are Mrs. Whitney, Arthur’s wife who tires from living in the shadows; Ms. Louis, a seductive ballerina; three members of a boys choir; Murray and Barb, the bickering elderly couple; a psychiatrist with secrets of his own; and Steph, Whitney’s niece who is a college student conveniently writing a thesis about small-town homicides.
Kinosian as The Suspects does not require any costume changes, aside from a single pair of black round wire framed glasses. He uses only his voice and his body language to differentiate each character instantly. He often transitions from one suspect to another at warp speed, but there is never a problem in understanding which suspect he is portraying at any given moment.
|Very sound advice from someone in wire glasses –credit|
Both Ryback and Kinosian work hard on stage displaying their explosive talents; they turn acting into an Olympic event. The men sweat, spit, sing, dance and not only play the piano, but expertly play the piano. The classic Looney Tunes episode of Bugs Bunny as pianist Franz Liszt comes to mind as the actors execute precise choreography while dueling on one set of piano keys. Kinosian is even able to hit the correct notes with his shoe clad foot! The piano playing is never at the expense of the storytelling but adds to the suspense and the tension growing between the characters.
It was refreshing to watch the actors clearly enjoy themselves during the performance. More than once, they looked at each other and tried to stifle laughter, aware of their own ridiculousness. Their enthusiasm was contagious, as evidenced by repeated guffaws from the audience. And despite the comedy, the men even managed to make a tender love ballad duet believable.
The set is a grand piano in front of a brick wall with two doors on each side. A chair is creatively utilized as a window, and a ladder serves as a staircase. All other fake props are made real with the use of sound effects, such as tea pouring and glass shattering.
Although the show is farcical in nature, it does still incorporate a great mystery that’s fun for all ages to try and solve. The evening leads up to an unexpected and fulfilling conclusion.
Murder for Two shows that a production does not need spectacle and a large budget for success. With only two actors, one piano on a nearly bare stage, and some surprise audience participation, you can witness the true magic of theater.
I almost died laughing.
Murder for Two
New World Stages
340 W 50th St
Tickets can be purchased at Telecharge.com.
Mondays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursdays at 8 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m.
|See Murder for Two at New World Stages.|