Stage review: Two's a riotous crowd in 'Murder for Two'
November 4, 2014 12:00 AM
Ian Lowe, left, and Joe Kinosian in CLO Cabaret's "Murder for Two."
By Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If you’re looking for 90 minutes of pure silliness, step right up to the CLO Cabaret show. There’s silly aplenty in “Murder for Two.”
The zany musical never takes itself seriously as it tickles as many mystery conventions as can be packed into a satire of Agatha Christie-style mysteries.
‘Murder for Two’
Where: CLO Cabaret at the Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown.
When: Through Jan. 18. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays (plus 1 p.m. Nov. 20, Dec. 18 and Jan. 15); 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets: $34.75-$44.75; clocabaret.com or 412-456-6666.
As the title suggests, two actors create what seems like a crowd onstage: Ian Lowe portrays ambitious, tormented investigating officer Marcus. Co-writer/composer Joe Kinosian takes on the personas of a dozen suspects — male and female, young and old, one wackier than the next — with minimal props to aid the transition. Both play piano, sometimes solo, sometimes together. They create comedy and chaos at a fever pitch, aided by clever lyrics by co-writer Kellen Blair and frenetic direction by Scott Schwartz.
The actors enter quietly and offer a sample of their piano-playing skills before murder — and, gasp, the theft of ice cream — take center stage. The victim is novelist Arthur Whitney, killed at his birthday party, and the guests are all about to be questioned by Marcus, who is desperate to make detective and still tender after having lost at love.
The interaction between the investigator and suspects isn’t always smooth and both actors playfully cover any rough edges. That’s fine, because the fourth wall comes tumbling down in “Murder for Two,” as Mr. Kinosian addresses the audience and Mr. Lowe reaches in for a recruit.
With simple props such as eyeglasses, a baseball cap and a scarf, the lanky Mr. Kinosian brings to life the suspects who include:
The bickering Murray and Barb Flandon, among Mr. Kinosian’s strongest back-and-forth characterizations. Murray revels in declaring, “It was her!”
The psychiatrist who knows everyone’s secrets and has a few of his own.
The wife (of course!), a former singer who was given her break by her husband, then tossed aside for ...
... The winsome ballerina, who doth confess too much.
The niece, Steph, who has a crush on Marcus and insists on helping him solve the case.
The three choir boys — Timmy, Yonkers and Skid — who sing that they “have seen a lot woise.” It’s a list that includes, “Saw my granny in the shower once … we saw a show called ‘Mama Mia’ once …”
Among Mr. Kinosian’s neat tricks is portraying the trio singing and dancing while on his knees and using only a cap and vocal changes to distinguish them. The songs of “Murder for Two” feature Broadway-style melodies and the lyrics add a kick to the characterizations.
The fun of the show isn’t as much the solving of the case as watching Mr. Kinosian keep up the pace and seeing how it all turns out for Marcus. The current actors will be in the roles through Nov. 22, before Brandon Lambert takes over as Marcus and John Wascavage as the suspects Nov. 23-Jan. 18.
CLO Cabaret is the first regional theater to produce the musical following its off-Broadway debut last year. After their run in Pittsburgh, Mr. Kinosian and Mr. Lowe will hit the road for other productions, spreading around the spoonful of silly that is “Murder for Two.”
Sharon Eberson: email@example.com or 412-263-1960. Twitter: SEberson_pg.
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