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Murder for Two

Book and lyrics by Kellen Blair, book and music by Joe Kinosian

A Hayes Theatre Company production

September 2023


4.5 STARS


Written and composed by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, Murder for Two is a jam packed musical whodunnit that premiered in Chicago in 2011. In its Australian premiere, Hayes Theatre Company presents Murder for Two, a parody of the classic murder mystery and the traditional book musical. The work is a two hander show with a four-hander piano accompaniment – two incredibly multi-skilled stars accompany and underscore their own performance.

Gabbi Bolt opens the show playing Marcus Moscowicz; a hard working, by-the-book police officer who aspires to becoming a detective. He’s the first to arrive on the scene of novelist Arthur Whitney’s home after he’s been shot dead at a surprise party. As Bolt pulls the cover off the living room baby grand piano, we meet quadruple threat Maverick Newman who plays all thirteen guests and suspects.


Photos by Phil Erbacher


Replicating the set of an Agatha Christie film with floor to ceiling bookshelves, crystal glassware and velvet upholstered furniture, Keerthi Subramanyam’s sets and costumes invite us into the wealthy countryside mansion where the work unfolds. Priyanka Martin’s lighting transports us from the front porch, to outside the house, to the blood red living room murder scenes, to a disco party. Daniel Herten’s sound design reinforces the tongue in cheek comedy, at times making the audience feel like a part of the show and Shannon Burns choreography makes great use of the space and expertly highlights each performers’ strengths. Under Richard Carroll’s direction, the work is staged with minimal production elements; there is no set change, costume change, and very few special effects, letting the brilliance of the score and performers speak for themselves.


Newman executed the mammoth role superbly, switching from wife of the deceased to celebrated ballerina, town psychiatrist to young choir boy. It would be easy for the role(s) to become confusing and too ridiculous to follow, but Newman expertly managed the changes ensuring each character lands clearly. It wasn’t just the different voices or accents that characterised each suspect, but the physicality and facial expressions that made each character recognisable and easy to follow. He wasn’t just singing, dancing, and leaving us breathless from laughter, but accompanying half of the show at the piano as it went.


Bolt was the grounding force that kept the show on its tracks. Playing the ambitious and hard-working officer, her comedic timing was exceptional, and the delivery of her spoken text was so well articulated; an incredibly polished theatre debut performance. The pairing is sensational, these two have a magnetic comical rapport like they’ve been performing together for years. Their spoken and sung performances are perfectly matched by their musical performance as guided by musical supervisor Damon Wade.


Murder for Two is a perfect blend of music, physical comedy, dancing, and a touch of murder. The performers deliver whimsical lyrics with precision and wit; it’s charming, the performances are mind blowing, and it’ll have you snort laughing in your seat.


 

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