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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 7, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 14
Murder for Two - slays
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Murder for Two - slays

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

MURDER FOR TWO
ACT THEATRE
Through June 11


Murder For Two is a new musical comedy presented by the 5th Avenue Theatre in collaboration with ACT Theatre. The production is more reminiscent of an English Music Hall than of a Broadway show, but it is an enjoyable production regardless. It is a fun show with quick timing and talented actors, plus there's a piano.

The storyline is very typical of English productions. There's a gathering of characters united in their dislike for the Guest of Honor at an elaborate birthday party. As the lights are turned off for the surprise entry, a gun goes off and the main character is shot dead. Two police officers (one desperately trying to make Detective) appear on the scene and have 'an hour' to solve the crime before the official detective shows up. In that hour, the audience is introduced to 12 characters (including women, children and the elderly) that are all suspects and are played by two men (Richard Gray and Chris DiStefano) - who also play the piano.

The characters are easy to tell apart despite the little costuming and differences in appearances. The actors use subtle nuances to present the different characters, such as using glasses, an accent, hats and of course, their unique talents to bring the characters to life. The changes are lightning fast and mostly under the credit of Richard Gray. Mr. Gray has been seen on the 5th Avenue stage in several incarnations from The Music Man to Spamalot to A Room With A View, among others and brings his comedic talents along with his strong stage presence to this production. He plays over 10 characters (including three members of a 12 boy-choir) and does so with comic precision.

Mr. Gray's counterpart is Chris DiStefano. Mr. DiStefano takes on his own challenges by playing three characters including Marcus Moscowicz, the police officer desperate to become Detective. His conversation flies as fast as the character changes, all so he can solve the murder within the show's remaining hour frame. The enthusiasm of Moscowicz comes through easily, despite some simple shtick, and the audience quickly finds itself siding along and cheering for the policeman to make his goal.

The real star of this show, however, is the piano that stands prominently center stage. It is utilized by both men so readily that it seems there are a host of piano players standing by, waiting for their opportunity to play. There are times the two men overlap each other on the piano bench, cross each other's hands, mix and mingle with the other's playing all while assisting and never missing a note. While the songs (written by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair) are not particularly memorable, they do add to the moment of presentation and make the simple (almost cliché) storyline enjoyable.

The show is fun and enjoyable. It runs roughly 90 minutes with no intermission, so as not to interrupt the tension of the 'whodunit.' While the architecture of the show is not original, nor the Music Hall styling of several characters played by one or two actors, these two men pull it off with great ease and seem to be having a fun time on stage.

Murder for Two made its world premier in late spring of 2011. The show ran for over six months and was extended on several occasions. The national tour was launched in late November 2014.

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