Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents
MURDER FOR TWO — A KILLER MUSICAL
At Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand
Book and music by Joe Kinosian
Book and lyrics by Kellen Blair
Directed by David H. Bell
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm
Thru November 27th
Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
The wife, psychiatrist, lover, neighbors, niece and choir of boys gather to celebrate a novelist’s birthday. SURPRISE! He’s shot to death! SURPRISE! There is only one person in the room. It’s a mystery! Chicago Shakespeare Theater premieres MURDER FOR TWO — A KILLER MUSICAL. An inspector arrives at the home of a best selling novelist. The house is full of killer suspects and only one soul. The deceased author has a reputation for bringing out the murder in people. As the inspector begins his interrogation, he realizes another crime has been committed. Someone has stolen the ice cream! Oh, and the psychiatrist has been poisoned too. Dont, dont, donnnnn. MURDER FOR TWO — A KILLER MUSICAL is a lyrical whodunit spoof.
Co-creators Joe Kinosian (book and music) and Kellen Blair (book and lyrics) introduce a vaudevillian style farce. It’s a two-man act. One guy is the inspector. The other is everyone else. And they both serve as the piano accompanist. The script is riddled with one line zings and a Clue-game-like-theatrics. Under the direction of David H. Bell, the pace snaps playfully along. It’s an energetic feat of organized buffoonery. Kinosian leads the parade of suspects. In perfect schizophrenic mode, Kinosian channels the voices in his head. Playing multiple roles, a hilarious Kinosian adapts a physical stance and distinct voice for each character. Using his lanky body and expressive eyes, Kinosian easily flows from character to character. His partner in crime, Alan Schmuckler is the straight guy in the burlesque-style merriment. Schmuckler plays it earnest as an officer trying to get an inspector upgrade. He charms as he flirts with the ladies and flusters with the guys. Either dueling it out on the piano or working the sketch-like comedy, Kinosian and Schmuckler have an old-fashion show biz partnership quality.
The set designed by Scott Davis includes a suspended miniature gothic mansion that lights up. The mini home shows activity on the outside. The fog rolls in. The moon rises. The kids chase the bad guy. It’s an amusing technique. The entire show is a tribute to amusing technique. The ongoing schtick elicits a varied response. Some of the audience laughed uncontrollably. Others chortled on occasion. I smiled hard at the talented slapstickers. MURDER FOR TWO — A KILLER MUSICAL doesn’t quite execute fatal attraction. It grazes the surface as a light, frothy frolic.
A man known for his killer comedy, James describes it with ‘Campy Christie Conundrum.’