by Richard Dodds
If Agatha Christie hadn't been so bloody prolific, it might seem there are more spoofs of her detective formula than the novels that begat them. Add to the list of these homage-parodies the slight but frothy meringue of a show titled Murder for Two: A Killer Musical.
Not yet a year old, the musical is definitely not typical fare for 42nd Street Moon, where the age of the musicals it presents is usually in the double digits – even the high double digits. But as the company has evolved from barebones staged concerts of seldom-seen musicals, it has become less hidebound to its original format. Still, Murder for Two is probably its first offering that quite arguably nobody in its audience has ever heard of, unless you happened to be hiking near the Adirondack Theatre Festival this past summer.
It was there that aspiring musical-theater writers Joe Kinosian (book and music) and Kellen Blair (book and lyrics) debuted their musical, with a cast comprised of Kinosian and Adam Overett under Scott Weinstock's direction. It is the same company now at the Eureka Theatre, evoking smiles for these autumn nights.
While Agatha Christie may have provided the framework for the musical, it is mere latticework for other theatrical sports. In typical Christie fashion, a detective arrives at a stately mansion where any member of the household or guests could have caused a corpse to be in the parlor. But there's a twist: All the suspects are played by Kinosian, in quick-change fashion that actually doesn't involve any changes in costume. It's all done through voice and body language, and Kinosian essays his multiple roles with an inviting subtlety – though distinctions among the characters at times begin to blur.
As the detective (actually a police officer angling for a promotion), Adam Overett has but one character to play, which he does efficiently, but he's mainly the straight man to Kinosian's multi-emoting. Both sing the untaxing score with enough musicality to put across songs that could just as well be called ditties. The two men also take turns at the piano.
Murder for Two also has fun with theatrical conventions, making light of its own format, miscuing sound effects, and snapping the obligatory photo of the audience member lured to the stage with an imaginary camera. The hoary jokes are affable enough, and a stream of the freshly clever buoys us along for the 90 minutes of a show that doesn't really care whodunit. But audiences should be happy that they are doing it.
Murder for Two: A Killer Musical will run through Nov. 21 at the Eureka Theatre. Tickets are $39-$44. "Glitter and Be Gay" LGBT performance on Nov. 12 has a pre-show discussion at Elephant & Castle Pub. Call 255-8207 or go www.42ndstmoon.org.