Despite the tiny cast of Murder for Two, there’s a multiplicity of suspects | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Despite the tiny cast of Murder for Two, there’s a multiplicity of suspects

Marriott's two-man musical murder mystery is lots of fun, until it runs out of plot.


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Musicals are notoriously expensive to produce, especially shows with large casts and a decent-size live orchestra. Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair's two-person murder-mystery musical (performed sans orchestra—the actors accompany themselves) is tailor-made for theaters on a budget. (And who isn't?) Which may be one reason the show, after premiering in 2011 at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, has gone on to be produced around the world, in both English and in translation (Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean). It also can't hurt that it looks like a lot of fun to do, full of opportunities for actors to show off their performing skills (one actor plays all the suspects, the other plays the investigator and provides most of the musical accompaniment).

Noel Carey and Jason Grimm perform well together, and much of the entertainment in this show comes from their considerable onstage chemistry. Both are facile comic actors, though Grimm, who plays the suspects, earns the most applause because his changes from one character to another are so quick and because he's a bit of ham. Kinosian and Blair's book is charming, though there's nothing particularly groundbreaking about their genre parody or their small cast. And the story does seem to run out steam about 70 minutes into the 90-minute show. Still, Kinosian's tunes are fresh and ear pleasing, Blair's lyrics are witty and literate, Carey and Grimm keep things moving under Scott Weinstein's direction, and the audience laughs throughout.   v

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