Multi-talented cast carries multi-character ‘Murder for Two’

By David Lampe-Wilson
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Weston Playhouse continues its summer season at its Other Stage with “Murder for Two,” a frivolous musical that sends up murder mysteries and their attendant tropes.

While its premise is clever — two actors play all parts including detective, victim and suspects — your enjoyment will depend on how tolerant you are of weak jokes and uninspired songs, and whether you can see past the play to simply enjoy the expert acting.

'Murder for Two' stars Photos by Tim Fort

‘Murder for Two’ stars Kyle Branzel, left, and Ian Lowe. Photos by Tim Fort

Officer Marcus Moscowicz (Ian Lowe) is a small town cop looking to solve a case that will propel him to the rank of detective. When a surprise birthday party turns to tragedy after the birthday boy is surprised by a bullet to the head, Marcus sees his chance to do a bit of detecting and begins to question the suspects, each played by Kyle Branzel, including the victim’s wife, his psychiatrist, a couple of gruff neighbors, a prima ballerina, a young college girl and a group of choir boys.

It’s all rather silly, with the musical beginning at a leisurely pace and building up to a frenetic finale. The book, lyrics and music by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair are instantly forgettable; you will not leave the theater humming a tune or quoting a witty line. What will get you talking are the performances by the two principals.

Ian Lowe as Officer Moscowicz has the unenviable task of holding the proceedings together, which he does with energy and good humor as Kyle Branzel morphs from one character to another in the blink of an eye — even arguing with himself as the grumpy neighbors. While Branzel has the flashier role and executes his varied characters with aplomb, Lowe keeps the evening steady as we watch Branzel pirouette around the stage in a mania of studied precision. Both actors have toured with this play before and they bring a wide range of talent and experience to the Weston stage.

'The performers are a lot of fun to watch.'

‘The performers are a lot of fun to watch.’

And while the two sing and dance around the stage, they also provide their own piano accompaniment — two hands, three hands, four hands … and occasionally a foot. The performers are a lot of fun to watch.

The evening has been staged by Steve Stettler, who uses a turntable to create some visual variety with the main set pieces consisting of a trunk, a piano and a bench. It is simple, straightforward staging that allows the actors to run riot around the stage.

The production is solid, thanks to scenic designer Brian Dudkiewicz, costumer designer Rachel Kurland, lighting designer Travis McHale and sound designer Andrew Bradford Ferry.

“Murder for Two” continues through Sept. 4 at The Weston Playhouse Other Stage, Weston Rod and Gun Club, 982 Vermont Route 100, Weston. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; matinees are Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. For tickets and information, call 802-824-5288 or click here.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeIn the ArtsReviews

About the Author: After 30 years as a theater critic and arts editor for a Connecticut daily newspaper, David Lampe-Wilson transplanted to Vermont with his wife and two cats.

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