Stage West’s Murder for Two is described a musical comedy and really should be called satirical musical comedy. It’s full of talent, with both actors taking on musical roles. The musical, with book and music by Joe Kinosian and book and lyrics by Kellen Blair is chaotic at times and over the top but features outstanding talent and great music.
The plot is obviously a murder mystery, with a variety of suspects all played with finesse by John Wascavage. The great American mystery writer Arthur Whitney has been shot at his surprise birthday party and Officer Marcus Moscowicz (Bradon Lambert) wants to impress his chief and solve the case. There are many party guests including Whitney’s wife Dahlia, his niece Stephanie, ballerina Barrette Lewis and Dr Griff, the psychiatrist that treats everyone in the small town. Bradon and John switch off playing the piano while singing and playing their respective characters. It’s overwhelming at times when new characters just enter the scene without any logic or plot development.
Wascavage is impressive in energy and tries to give each character a defining stance and voice though some of his transitions are a little choppy. Lambert is a foil to Wascavage’s changing characters as he is steady and constant. These two are multi talented and dynamic and also show their improvisational skills.
Director J. Scott Lapp has the action move quickly on the stage and manages to rein in Wascavage and Lambert but the show does seem to run jokes a little too long at times. Dave Smith’s set design fits in a piano in the centre of the stage without it seeming out of place and JP Thibodeau’s lighting design stands out, especially when the plot moves into talking about the murder scene or when someone randomly breaks into song and the marquee lighting is a nice touch. Michael Gesy’s sound design helps fill in the spaces in the musical, bringing gun shots and death scenes to life.
Murder for Two has a plot that is a bit all over the place and if you can sit back and enjoy the comedic satire, the show will be a whole lot of fun.
Stage West’s Murder for Two runs until September 3. More information is available online.