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Stage West Calgary - Murder for Two

Murder For Two

Book and Music by Joe Kinosian

Book and Lyrics by Kellen Blair

Synopsis: Officer Marcus Moscowicz is a small town policeman with dreams of making it to detective. One fateful night, shots ring out at the surprise birthday party of Great American Novelist Arthur Whitney and the writer is killed…fatally. With the nearest detective an hour away, Marcus jumps at the chance to prove his sleuthing skills with the help of his silent partner, Lou. But whodunit? Did Dahlia Whitney, Arthur’s scene-stealing wife, give him a big finish? Is Barrette Lewis, the prima ballerina, the prime suspect? Did Dr. Griff, the overly-friendly psychiatrist, make a frenemy? Marcus has only a short amount of time to find the killer and make his name before the real detective arrives and the ice cream melts!

Seemingly, from the pen of a tipsy Agatha Christie, this whodunit takes up all of the classic mystery tropes: there is the genteel soiree at the isolated estate, the characters ripe with eccentricities, the murder, the mystery. The tipsy twist is a taste of the zany with hilarious songs and shtick. Stage West brings to Calgary the uproarious musical mystery, Murder for Two by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair. Fresh off an award winning run Off-Broadway, this murder-mystery production proved to be a killer way to spend an evening.

The premise is classic whodounit- a poison-penned writer is murdered at his surprise birthday party! A burgeoning sleuth is thrust into the middle of this muddled-murder to keep the peace until a real Detective can take the lead. Marcus Moscowiczk, the small-town copper with grandiose dreams, must capitalize on his opportunity by catching the killer and saving the day. This will be no easy feat as the suspects are a peculiar cast of characters including; Dahlia, the novelist’s starry-eyed wife, Barrette Lewis, a femme-fatalesque ballerina, Stephanie, a doe-eyed college student, Dr. Griff, a troubled psychiatrist and many more.

The magic of this show is that all of the myriad characters are played by two actors. Brandon Lambert dons the copper’s coat as Marcus Moscowicz, the small town policeman focused on becoming a Detective. Lambert embodied the character of Marcus. He brought an innocence to the role of the bumbling detective but ensured that there was a depth to the character. Through his adroit characterization, the audience could see that there was some damage done by a previous encounter. Lambert made sure his character wasn’t simply a caricature. Moreover, Lambert’s songs were well-honed ear worms that had me humming well into the next day. For me, John Wascavage was the highlight of this production. Wascavage had the wonderful challenge of bringing to life all of the remaining characters. Wascavage masterfully introduced us to a host of wonderful characters. He easily transitioned from one role to the next bringing delicate nuances to the different characters. With only a turn, the audience knew exactly which character was now grabbing their attention. His energy was infectious and his portrayal of the many zany party-goers had the audience in stitches. The songs were brilliantly performed showing Wascavage’s powerful vocal range.

With a satirical wink and a nod, the plot can run around but the direction is crisp and the comedic energy of our dynamic duo keeps the momentum moving forward. Lambert and Wascavage have such a brilliant rapport that the audience is raptly attentive to every joke, jingle and jostle.

The set is simple yet striking! There are only a few simple set pieces and the action is primarily focused around a piano, which is used with aplomb by our talented actors. The piano is pretty well smoking by the end of the show! Not only are Wascavage and Lambert talented singers and actors but are also virtuoso piano players.

I thoroughly enjoyed Stage West’s production of Murder for Two! The powerhouse performances brought on great guffaws of laughter that resulted in me spraying mouthfuls of masticated crab legs all over my table. Stage West will continue tickling ivories and funny bones with this clever caper until September 3.

Tickets can be purchased via www.stagewestcalgary.com

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