BWW Interview: Too Much MURDER FOR TWO at Winter Park Playhouse
MURDER FOR TWO begins its run at Winter Park Playhouse this week. Promising to be better than most of those murder mystery diners in the tourist area, this cabaret-style show is played by just two men. I had an opportunity to interview MURDER FOR TWO stars Michael Swickard and Kevin Kelly as they prepare to put on a lot of different hats.
Hello gentlemen. So tell me - whodunit? Just kidding. MURDER FOR TWO sounds like a really fun show. What is your favorite part?
Michael: I think audiences are really going to like this show. It has a little bit of everything. My favorite part is the challenge of it all. It's hard enough to have two actors play all the characters in a modern-murder-mystery-comedy-musical, but to ask them to be their own accompanist on top of everything else, is a huge task. Kevin and I have worked really hard on making this show look effortless and part of the fun for the audience is going to be watching the theatrical spectacle of it all.
Kevin: Picking a favorite thing from this project is more difficult than it sounds... The script is hilarious, the music is clever, and the whole concept of two men, one piano, 13 characters is thrilling to me! Honestly, my favorite part of this whole process, is watching Michael. He is one of my dearest friends and we had been looking for a project to do together for quite a while now. This man amazes me at every turn and tickles my funny bone! It is so much fun to watch him create!
BWW: What makes a good murder mystery?
Michael: MURDER FOR TWO really pay homage to all the great murder mystery stories. There are plot twists and revelations throughout. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something new comes along to blindside you. The mystery unfolds at a great pace and comes together at the end neatly.
Kevin: One of my favorite movies of all time is murder by death. It was an amazing cast including the likes of Peter Faulk, Eileen Brennan, Maggie Smith and Truman Capote just to name a few. It was funny, clever and highly satisfying, and I believe that Joe and Kellen captured all of those things in murder for two. Every character has a viable motive, but you don't want it to end because it's so hilarious!
BWW: Kevin, you play the Inspector, while Michael plays everybody else. What is that like? How do you keep all of the characters straight?
Kevin: Michael makes it easy. Every character is so unique! Granted, there are times that I have to turn around and start talking to someone who isn't there, but I have such a clear vision of these awesome characters he's created in my mind.
Michael: IT ISN'T EASY!! Ha! I portray 10 characters myself and Kevin voices two more characters that I physically portray, so there are a lot of people inside me trying to get out. Ha! Part of the fun of this show for the audience is discovering how I'm going to change into each character. All the characters are present onstage at the same time. I don't go offstage and reappear in a new costume. It's all done with physicality, voices, dialects, and a few props.
Kevin is doing such a wonderful job of playing my foil. I so enjoy working with him and I trust him completely. It's so nice to know that he's got my back in every scene and I've got his.
BWW: I've read that this is cabaret-style with some clever tunes. Without giving away too much, are there any songs that are your favorite?
Michael: The show was developed in a cabaret venue, but as the show was work-shopped, it has moved to a one-act show with no intermission. The music is so cleverly written and stylistically perfect for each character and the overall style of the show. Every song reveals something new for the story and finds new ways to utilize the two actors and one piano. There's one song where I am singing a duet with myself while also playing the piano.
Kevin: All of them. :D
BWW: What are some of the challenges with acting and playing the piano at the same time?
Michael: Adding the extra layer of playing piano for yourself was a challenge. The score is completely memorized and we discovered at all 88 keys are utilized. The piano becomes part of the collaboration and really helps to tell the story.
Kevin: It is a challenge remembering transitions from time to time during the rehearsal process. However, as we are getting closer and closer to opening the show, I find staying invested and involved in the story helps our hands simply become an extension of our characters.
BWW: What should the audience expect? Should we bring our own detective hats?
Michael: If you have a detective hat at your disposal, go right ahead. I think audiences should expect a great evening out. It is thoroughly entertaining and I think will have a really wide appeal. The "gimmick" of two actors, one piano, and over a dozen characters is enough to bring a lot of folks to the playhouse, but there is much more than "gimmick" in this production. The story is well crafted and comedy is wonderfully written. As the tagline says, "We put the LAUGHTER in MANSLAUGHTER."
Kevin: Expect a laugh your ass off! Lord knows I do
BWW: You both are hysterical! I can't wait to see this live. Thank you for your time.
You can catch MURDER FOR TWO at Winter Park Playhouse from May 12 to May 21 and June 1 to June 11. For tickets and more information visit winterparkplayhouse.org. Stay tuned later this month for my review of MURDER FOR TWO. I'm sure it will be to die for.
Photo Credit: Taylor Glore