Murder for Two, a recent Off-Broadway gem, originally opened at Second Stage Theatre Uptown on July 25, 2013, and then transferred to New World Stages, opening there on November 6, 2013. With strong reviews, the quirky two-actor show is still running strong and is currently booking tickets through July 6, 2014. Moreover, the side-splitting cast album for the show was recently released by Ghostlight Records and has me wanting to hop a plane to New York to see this comical little one-act.
From the "Prelude" to "Finale Ultimo (A Friend Like You)," Joe Kinosian's music and Kellen Blair's lyrics are spirited, witty (with a delightful dusting of snark) and amusing. With only a piano as accompaniment, each track has a pared-down feeling that draws the audience into the intricacy of the musical scoring, the absurdly caricaturized suspects cleverly voiced by Jeff Blumenkrantz, the intriguing murder-mystery plot, and the undeniable fun that experiencing this work is.
As Marcus, the detective on the case, Brett Rybeck sings with tangible charm and confidence. Across the disc, he is in great voice and creates a character that is just as likable as Hercule Poirot, even if he seems to be a little green around the edges. Regardless, his do-everything-by-the-book character is intelligent and interesting.
Playing a bevy of zany characters, Blumenkrantz owns the recording. His chemistry with Rybeck is spot-on; however, he has the added challenge of having to create tangible chemistry between the various personalities he inhabits on the recording. This is only complicated by the fact that they often interact with one another. Here Blumenkrantz, who must sometimes feel like he suffers from some sort of multiple personality disorder, flawlessly jumps back and forth from character to character, keeping listeners enthralled and laughing.
The recording of Murder for Two is a wonderful example of theatrical creativity and genius at work. These songs may not get stuck in your head, but many of the solos will make wonderful audition pieces for those seeking to land character roles. Moreover, even with repeated listening, they abundantly entertain. For a good laugh and a wonderful pick-me-up from whatever doldrums you're wanting to escape, Murder for Two (Original Cast Recording) is just the remedy you're reaching for.
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Murder for Two (Original Cast Recording) was released by Ghostlight Records digitally on January 14. Physical copies of the CD were released on February 11. The album can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon and elsewhere music is sold.