Fun and hilarity abound in North Carolina Theatre’s latest production of Murder for Two, a hilarious musical comedy written by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, under the direction of J. Scott Lapp.
This unique whodunit mystery is like nothing viewers have seen before. That’s because only two piano-playing actors carry the whole script, including innocent-faced Brandon Lambert as ambitious officer Marcus Moscowicz, and the hilarious and hugely talented Martin Landry as…well…everyone else. Thirteen characters exist within this short script, but these two actors manage to embody them all.
While it might seem that the “hook” of having one actor do so many parts would grow old as the show marches on, it doesn’t. Thanks to Landry’s mastery, it actually grows more fascinating. He deftly moves from one character to the next, cleverly utilizing repeated mannerisms and movements and small accessories so that viewers, amazingly, never get confused about who he is portraying and when. In fact, that’s part of the magic of this show because, by the time it’s over, viewers will feel as if each character was real and present…even though they’re all embodied in one person.
All of these “real and present” characters gather together for a surprise party for local novelist, Arthur Whitney. Unfortunately, in Agatha Christie style, he’s shot dead before he even gets to sample the cake, and everyone present at the party is deemed a suspect. That’s when Landry’s inexperienced Moscowicz comes in. Desperate to prove he’s worthy of detective status, Marcus attempts to solve the crime and wrangle the hilarious “cast” of characters at the same time.
And, while Lambert might not have quite as much to do as Landry, he’s endearing nonetheless. He charms audiences with his early performance of “Protocol Says,” which sets Marcus up as a straightforward character who believes in easy answers. Later, Lambert makes his character’s growth evident, helping to bring the story full-circle.
Lambert isn’t the only one with singing skills to display. Landry nails all of his numbers, but especially shines with “A Perfectly Lovely Surprise,” which he sings as Dahlia Whitney, wife of the murdered Mr. Whitney.
Even more impressive than the tongue-in-cheek songs is the chemistry shared between the two leads. Playing off of each other’s energy and occasionally forcing one another into scene-breaking laughter, it’s obvious these two love working together. That love and energy creates a special magic onstage that makes this show even more fun and enjoyable. It also doesn’t hurt that they add in local touches, like one character donning a Hurricanes hat, as well as plenty of nods to the local theatre scene.
All of this fun plays out on a cute, simple set that emits a perfectly spooky ambiance. With flickering lights, exposed brick, and a piano front and center, the old-fashioned feel of the set perfectly prepares viewers for the comedy and mystery mashup that is the hilarious, must-see Murder for Two, onstage through May 5th.
The North Carolina Theatre presents MURDER FOR TWO at 7:30 p.m. April 30-May 3, and 2 and p.m. May 4 and 5 in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $50.22-$97.22, except $25 college-student tickets.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/369155/2492449.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949; email@example.com; or http://nctheatre.com/groups.
SHOW: https://nctheatre.com/shows/murder-for-two, https://www.facebook.com/events/2087613371501868/, and https://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/events/murder-two-north-carolina-theatre.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_3odDc5SMY.
2018-19 SEASON: https://nctheatre.com/show-season/201819-season.
NCT NEWS RELEASE: https://nctheatre.com/blog/murder-two-cast-announced.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
Murder for Two (2011 Chicago and 2013 Off-Broadway musical): http://murderfortwomusical.com/ (official website) and http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/5648 (Internet Off-Broadway Database).
Study Guide: https://www.bard.org/study-guides/murder-for-two-study-guide (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
Joe Kinosian (book and music): http://www.kinosianandblair.com/ (official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/43067 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/joe-kinosian-497052 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2681034/ (Internet Movie Database).
Kellen Blair (book and lyrics): http://www.kinosianandblair.com/ (official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/43068 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/kellen-blair-497072 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1373405/ (Internet Movie Database).
J. Scott Lapp (director): http://jeremylapp.com/Welcome.html (official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/43216 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/j-scott-lapp-491141 (Internet Broadway Database).
Wendy Seyb (choreographer): https://www.wendyseyb.com/ (official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/34957 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/wendy-seyb-489196 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0786708/ (Internet Movie Database).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.triangleartsreview.com/, http://www.susiepotter.com, and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.