Murder for Two

National Tour Kicks Off in Phoenix

By Richard Schultz - Jan. 1, 2015


Arizona Theatre Company launches the national tour of the off-Broadway hit, Murder for Two, with its Southwest premiere starring Joe Kinosian as the Suspects and Ian Lowe as Marcus from the off-Broadway production. This laugh-out-loud musical comedy whodunit has the classic feel of a murder mystery and a contemporary homage to vintage comedy.

Murder for Two channels composer Kinosian and lyricist Kellen Blair’s love for both Agatha Christie and the Marx Brothers into a zany 90-minute blend of musical comedy and madcap mystery with two performers playing 13 roles – and the piano.

It’s the story of Officer Marcus Moscowicz, a small-town cop with dreams of making detective. One fateful night, shots ring out at the surprise birthday party of Great American Novelist Arthur Whitney and the writer is killed. 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. Marcus only has a short amount of time to find the killer and make his name before the real detective arrives.

Kinosian, a native of Wisconsin, grew up with an affinity for old movies. He received a degree in film and television production from Savannah College of Art and Design. After working for a year as a production assistant in New York, he decided to focus on music, which led to becoming a composer and meeting his writing partner Kellen Blair at the BMI Musical Theater Writers’ Workshop. Together, they received Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award recognizing Murder for Two as Best New Musical following its record-breaking run at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The show had its off-Broadway premiere at Second Stage Uptown, going on to a year-long run at New World Stages.

Echo: How did the show and music come together?

Kinosian: My writing partner, Kellen Blair, and I wanted to write a zany farce that was easily producible. We started with the notion (gimmick, if you will) that the show would be a full-book musical without requiring any more than two actors and a piano. We then came up with the concept of the Marx Brothers enacting an Agatha Christie-type mystery. In developing those notions, we came up with the idea that one actor would play the investigator and the other would play all ten of the suspects.

Echo: Do you have a favorite moment or scene in the show?

Kinosian: At the 11th hour of the investigation, a surprise guest comes along. No spoilers, but it’s a very surreal, almost inexplicable moment, and I just love doing it.

Echo: Is there a specific theme or message to the show?

Kinosian: To me, the theme of the show is that it’s better to work with someone than work alone. That’s been true of my life as a writer/actor. I think it’s true for Kellen as well. In its farcical way, Murder For Two comes back time and again to the notion of partnership. In fact, the big ballad in the middle of the show is called “He Needs A Partner.” Beyond that, I don’t think there are a lot of deep messages. That’s fine because, in my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with well-executed escapism!

Echo: Was there a moment when something unexpectedly happened in the show?

Kinosian: Yes, it happens all the time! The most fun to be had with this particular show is when things don’t go exactly according to plan. It’s not an improvised show. It’s scripted, but let’s say there’s a lot of room for play within those confines.

Echo: So, how would you sum up the show in one sentence?

Kinosian: For 89 minutes, it’s just two guys running around, playing the piano, and cracking wise. Doesn’t that sound like something worth seeing?

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