Review Roundup: MURDER FOR TWO at New World Stages
Producers Jayson Raitt, Barbara Whitman, Steven Chaikelson and Second Stage Theatre present Murder for Two, currently playing Off-Broadway at New World Stages - Stage 5 (340 West 50th Street). Direct from a critically-acclaimed, sold-out run at Second StageTheatre Uptown (Carole Rothman, Artistic Director, Casey Reitz, Executive Director and Christopher Burney, Curator and Associate Artistic Director), Murder for Two began performances at New World Stages - Stage 5 on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 and officially opened last night, November 6, 2013.
Everyone is a suspect in Murder for Two, a hilarious musical murder mystery with a twist: one actor (Brett Ryback) investigates the crime, the other plays all of the suspects (Jeff Blumenkrantz) and they both play the piano! A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this 90-minute whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with killer laughs. Murder for Two features book and music by Joe Kinosian, book and lyrics by Kellen Blair and direction by Scott Schwartz.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: Written by Joe Kinosian (book and music) and Kellen Blair (book and lyrics), "Murder for Two," which won a prestigious Jefferson Award in Chicago for best new musical in 2011, is an ingenious miniature musical in the form of a snazzy vaudevillian double act. The authors and the director, Scott Schwartz, deploy minimal stage resources to maximum effect. With just two actors, a piano and a prop or two, the show spins out a curlicued comic mystery story animated by funny, deftly turned songs...Once Marcus starts tangling with the oddly assorted suspects, "Murder for Two" gains elevation, although a tendency toward dopey humor is never entirely vanquished. But if the jokes in the book sometimes wheeze, the performers, remarkably, never do, even as they work up a considerable sweat under the pedal-to-the-floor direction of Mr. Schwartz.
Jeremy Gerard Bloomberg: "Murder for Two," a musical with at least eight characters for two actors and a Steinway baby grand, falls into that dread summer-fare genre, the Agatha Christie spoof. Thanks to the elastic skills and collegial charm of those two actors, and a score that's several cuts above parody, it's a winning diversion.
Adam Feldman, TimeOut NY: Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair's score is a silly-clever throwback to 1950s novelty cabaret, and director Scott Schwartz milks the show for every drop of tomfoolery: vaudeville bits, sound effects, meta winks, audience participation. Like many a lark, Murder for Two takes time to get off the ground. But after flapping its wings for a couple of scenes, it wins you over with droll writing and winsome performances. Along with acting and singing, Ryback and Blumenkrantz also accompany each other on piano; if you like your show-business men hardworking, you may end up smitten.