by Alexander Hehr
Melodious music, madcap humor, and a touch of murder. These styles don’t sound like they fit, but Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair have spun those seemingly disconnected theatrical elements into a mirthful musical whodunit that is catching fire in theatres across the country. Rich in song and silliness, Murder For Two is not your typical murder mystery. After famed writer Arthur Whitney is shot at his own surprise party, Officer Marcus Moscowitz appears to take the case! This zany plot gets even zanier with one actor playing the officer, and the other playing all the murder suspects.
Comedy is always welcome on the Keating stage, and Murder For Two is overflowing with that pivotal ingredient. A musical with sparse set and only a piano, the characters are key for a night of laughs. Following two actors and thirteen characters, a smorgasbord of screwy suspects is introduced, each with their own murderous motive that’s nuttier than the last. As officer turned wannabe detective Marcus Moscowitz examines the party guests, the other actor is in a flurry, turning from a bickering over-sexualized senior couple, to a former ballerina, to grieving widow ready for show business, and so much more. “It’s what I’m always looking for,” said Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins, “Essential theatre. It doesn’t rely on big sets. It’s about the actors’ talent.”
Murder For Two folds and blends the flavor of marvelous music and melodies into this laugh-out-loud plot. Akin to Florida Studio Theatre’s Piano Men (2016-17), the piano is the only instrument onstage, and the ivories are tickled constantly throughout the performance by both performers. While a solitary piano can sometimes make a show feel “one note,” the inventive and ingenious songs deliver a musical punch that elevates the scripts chaotic humor. Watch as wannabe detective Marcus Moscowitz and the suspects break out into song and dance, sing about unrequited love, and belt out their tragic backstory. But never forget there is still a murderer on the loose!
The whipped cream and cherry on top of the hit summer musical sundae is murder, filling the humor and songs with the genuine suspense that a theatre audience craves in live performance. A classic whodunit, Murder For Two falls into the iconic genre full of other great musicals like Curtains, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Clue: The Musical.
This is Florida Studio Theatre’s latest murder mystery since The Hounds of Baskerville back in 2015. And who better to direct this side-splitting thriller than Bruce Jordan, the Creator and Director of the comedy-mystery Shear Madness, the longest running show in U.S. History. Jordan was last featured as a Director here at FST in 2014 with Monty Python’s Spamalot. His prowess with creative staging and experience in the genre proves he is a perfect match for Florida Studio Theatre’s newest murder mystery.
There it is in black and white: an eccentric mashup seamlessly blending some Madcap comedy, inventive Music, and a sprinkle of Murder.