Monday, December 18, 2017
Stage

'Murder for Two' is a lighthearted, vaudevillian whodunit

TAMPA

As with the majority of touring musicals, Murder for Two visits the Tampa Bay area through the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

Like many, the show is light and funny, with performers who can sing and dance and act. There is only one problem to solve, and it's not our inhumanity to each other or our relationship to nature or with ourselves.

The great question is: Who killed Arthur Whitney?

Unlike any other show at the Straz this season, the cabaret-style musical is staying in town for several weeks. Not that moving would be any big deal. The set could probably fit into a single U-Haul truck.

What makes this two-man show unique is its lack of self-consciousness and a toned down sense of expectations. It asks the audience to suspend some of the normal accoutrements of theater, such as characters played by different actors and ingenious illusions.

In return, the show supplies performances so caffeinated they seem to be moving at double speed. Murder for Two, directed by Scott Schwartz and created by Kellen Blair and Jeff Kinosian, premiered in 2011 by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and was extended four times over a six-month run. It's a playful tribute to the style of Agatha Christie, with overtones of radio theater and the board game Clue.

Noel Carey plays Officer Marcus Moscowicz, who hopes to solve the murder of a famous novelist before his boss arrives on the scene. His counterpart, Jeremiah Ginn, plays all of the suspects.

Both play the piano.

The traditional mystery elements shift a spotlight of suspicion among at least a dozen characters. Did Whitney's steel magnolia wife do him in? Or could it have been her psychiatrist, who seems to have been treating everyone, including Moscowicz? The novelist's niece seems a little too helpful, and her master's thesis, "How to assist in the solving of a small-town murder," is awfully convenient.

As everyone nefarious, Ginn changes character with a turn of the head, an imaginary cigar or by adopting the gliding moves of a ballerina. All are characters Whitney knew and upon whom he drew fictional counterparts.

Ginn outdoes himself repeatedly through a very rapid 90-minute show, even dancing on his knees as three not-so-clean-cut members of a boys choir. Ginn and Carey supply all of the music, accompanying each other's soliloquies and banging out duets. They have fun with the audience, consistent with the gently self-satirizing feel of this production. Setting it in the Jaeb Theater, with its cafe seating amenable to drinks and popcorn, was a wise choice.

I realize talent is normally a means to an end, which is to tell a good story. Here the story, while amusing enough, pretty much showcases a couple of talented guys who can entertain at warp speed. Murder for Two is a bit like Prairie Home Companion, a comic riff that starts fast and never lets up.

Carey and Ginn wring out laughs and plenty of respect from the audience by sheer force of will. You cannot watch this pair do what they do and not be impressed.

So, who killed the novelist? It's almost beside the point. You might change your mind several times on the way to the end, which is part of what makes the show a fun, vaudevillian ride.

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

Comments
Tavis Smiley theatrical show canceled at Straz Center in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

Tavis Smiley theatrical show canceled at Straz Center in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

The theatrical tour about the death of Martin Luther King Jr. that Tavis Smiley was slated to bring to Tampa’s David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has been canceled in the wake sexual misconduct allegations against the broadcaster.Death...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

PHANTOM REDUX: LOVE NEVER DIESTurns out, the Phantom survived that angry mob. We know that because the antihero of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera re-emerges in the 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies.It opens in 1907 New York, w...
Published: 12/13/17
Is Gilbert Gottfried really that annoying in real life?

Is Gilbert Gottfried really that annoying in real life?

A new documentary about comedian Gilbert Gottfried reveals someone more mild-mannered than his stage persona, married with children, verging on dull.His voice doesn’t grate, dropping half its nasal quality and all of its foul-mouthed bluster. Shy win...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

ST. PETERSBURG — In some ways, the Florida Orchestra’s gala with Sting looked like other concerts of a mega-star. Most of the fans who packed the Mahaffey Theater bought their tickets the day they went on sale. They cheered and sang along at the open...
Published: 12/10/17
What’s on stage this week: Florida Orchestra happy hour concerts are back, Book of Mormon lottery

What’s on stage this week: Florida Orchestra happy hour concerts are back, Book of Mormon lottery

BACK ON TAP: HAPPY HOUR CONCERTSWith an opening year on the books, it looks like Happy Hour Concerts are here to stay. The Florida Orchestra figured last year it was time to create a user-friendly atmosphere geared to 9-to-5 commuters who could use t...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Live Oak Theatre Company presents Christmas show Dec. 15-16 in Brooksville

Live Oak Theatre Company presents Christmas show Dec. 15-16 in Brooksville

BROOKSVILLE — Singing Christmas carols, listening to stories while sitting in front of the fireplace, watching twinkling Christmas lights. For many, these are the feelings that trigger memories of Christmases past.Such memories will be reignited when...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/09/17
Musical take on miserly classic

Musical take on miserly classic

Photo courtesy of Jimmy FerraroThe new Millennium Theatre Company will present a musical production of What in the Dickens Happened To Scrooge? weekends, Dec. 9-17, at 10005 Ridge Road, New Port Richey. Show times are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
How to get $25 tickets to ‘Book of Mormon’ at the Straz Center

How to get $25 tickets to ‘Book of Mormon’ at the Straz Center

The Book of Mormon’s producers have made lower-priced tickets possible for a few lucky fans.To win a $25 ticket (that’s less than half of the starting price for seats), it’s safest to show up two and a half hours before curtain. One lottery entry per...
Published: 12/05/17
Orchestra delivers a stirring Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2

Orchestra delivers a stirring Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2

TAMPA — Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy a concert. I mean really, you can work yourself to death trying to figure out every nuance, as a critic or music aficionado. I don’t think Sergei Rachmaninoff, who described music as nonverbal po...
Updated one month ago
Our music critics wonder, how will Sting mesh with the Florida Orchestra?

Our music critics wonder, how will Sting mesh with the Florida Orchestra?

I was working construction the year Roxanne peaked on the Billboard charts and was playing all the time. With some of the more monotonous jobs, such as grading slabs, the radio is an important part of getting through it. I wasn’t into the Polic...
Updated one month ago