Make us your home page

'Murder for Two' is a lighthearted, vaudevillian whodunit

Jeremiah Ginn entertains at warped speed while playing the piano and all of the suspects in Murder for Two, the two-man murder mystery.

Photo by Terry Shapiro

Jeremiah Ginn entertains at warped speed while playing the piano and all of the suspects in Murder for Two, the two-man murder mystery.


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.


Murder for Two

The show runs through May 1 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $40. (813) 229-7827.

'Murder for Two' is a lighthearted, vaudevillian whodunit 03/14/16 [Last modified: Monday, March 14, 2016 5:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Cast up to the challenge in Richey Suncoast's 'How the Other Half Loves'


    Theater has many plays where there are two completely different apartments depicted on the stage, usually split down the middle, one on the right, one on the left.

    "How the Other Half Loves" runs weekends through Oct. 29 at Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey. Cast members are Christine Stoll and  David Daly (in front) and Bob Marcela, Heather Clark, Mike Worssell and Blake Parker (in back, from left). [Photo by Jess Glass]
  2. Review: Excellent cast delivers entertaining production of 'Young Frankenstein' at Stage West


    I went to see the musical comedy Young Frankenstein at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill with some trepidation. I had seen a very good production of the show at another theater a couple of years ago, and I was concerned that I would subconsciously compare the two to the detriment of one or the …

    "Young Frankenstein" plays weekends through Oct. 29 at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill. Keith Surplus, left, performs as Igor and Lynda Dilts-Benson, right, as Frau Blucher. [Photo by Carol Ballard]
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Oct. 23-29


    R. L. Stine: It's fitting that the week before Halloween, USF's Lecture Series features the popular horror author known for the Goosebumps series. Stine will discuss his career, creative process and sign books Wednesday at the Marshall Student Center in Tampa. Free. .

    ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 09: Singer Anthony Hamilton performs onstage at the 2014 Ford Neighborhood Awards Hosted By Steve Harvey at the Phillips Arena on August 9, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Ford Neighborhood Awards)
  4. Seasoned cast scores an extra-base hit for St. Petersburg Opera with 'Faust'


    TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season with Faust, in a production seemingly aligned with the original intent of French composer Charles Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. [St. Petersburg Opera Company]
  5. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway


    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.