MURDER FOR TWO – Music by Joe Kinosian; Lyrics by Kellen Blair; Book by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian; Directed by Julia Tobey. Produced by Give 5 Productions (Presented at Parker Arts Schoolhouse Theatre, 19650 East Main Street, Parker) through November 19. Tickets available at 303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org.
Twenty-four hours later and I’m still trying to recover from the madcap round of energy expended by two hard-working actor/musicians in performing this silly good-for-nothing-but-laughs musical comedy. Brandon Bill and Blake Nawa’a reprise their roles (multiple) in this goofy musical romp for the enjoyment of the residents of Parker and surrounds at the perfectly sized Schoolhouse theatre. I don’t know how they can possibly do two shows a day some days – but they do.
Brandon Bill reveals once again his ability to transform into multiple characters in front of your eyes as he did not that long ago in Vintage’s production of A GENTLEMEN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER. He’s a maid, the wife of the victim, the niece of the victim, an argumentative married couple, a ballerina believed to be the mistress of the victim, a “twelve-boy” musical choir (must be seen to be believed), and one or two others thrown in for good measure. With the addition of gaudy glasses, a change in posture or vocal quality, a nervous hand gesture, or some other little give-away characteristic, Brandon slides into a new persona easily. At least easily as far as the audience is concerned, but just keeping “everyone” straight has got to be a lot of mental work, let alone becoming them within seconds of each other. In addition to jumping back to the piano to accompany Blake’s solos. Good job, Brandon.
Which makes it sound like Blake has the easier job. Not really. In playing Marcus Moscowicz, the detective wanna-be, he provides the perfect slightly calmer foil for all of Brandon’s madness. He directs the dialogue, responds to each character with a different set of reactions, fends off the romantic advances of two “women,” and guides the investigation into the murder. In addition to jumping back to the piano to accompany Brandon’s solos. Good job, Blake.
Both men, in addition to their acting and singing talents, are virtuoso piano players. Each take turns in making the music of the evening come alive, accompanying one another in solos and duets, making the simple act of playing the piano a comical skit and part of the action. One of the musical themes oft repeated is that everyone occasionally “needs a partner.” Brandon and Black have found the perfect partners on stage in each other. Good job, boys.
The script is the standard kind of whodunnit plot seen in variations from Agatha Christie to MURDER IN THE BUILDING. A gathering of friends and relatives plan a surprise party for a man, but he is shot as he enters his own house. Obviously one of the party guests committed the murder, but who? A police officer who really wants to be a detective decides to try to solve the crime in the hour before the real detective will get there. And the plot unfolds from there. He interviews the multiple party guests, investigates what few clues there are, accuses everyone and then must listen to their reasoning for why they DIDN’T do it, witnesses yet another murder, and on until, through a process of elimination, the true villain is found. The fun is more in searching than in solving.
A great way to spend an evening or an afternoon on a sunny day in Parker. But get your ticket early. There was an absolutely sold-out house on a Saturday afternoon.
A WOW factor of 8.5!!