Theater review: ‘Murder for Two’ kills it with camp

Yes, those are maracas and power cords in Ryback's hands, but Blumenkrantz will just keep carrying the song while he's busy. Credit: Contributed
Just go along with it; you’ll have more fun that way.

With a nearly stripped stage showcasing a single piano, this low-budget, 90-minute production somehow manages to pack in all of the entertainment value of a mega Broadway musical without millions of dollars, celebrity talent or a three-hour run time.

“Murder for Two,” keenly directed by Scott Schwartz, is based on a fairly simple premise. It’s a murder mystery musical played out by two actors: one an aspiring detective on the scene of his first crime (Brett Ryback) — and another who plays all 13 suspects (Jeff Blumenkrantz). A man is shot dead at the scene of his own surprise party, and the first thing his widow does is order pizza for her strange collection of disaffected guests as they all await the police. The scenario only spins out of control from there, with large doses of cheekiness and camp.

This farce, which takes place in a small theater at Second Stage Uptown, is self-aware and always plays to the audience — yet it never panders. For example, the set displays random odds and ends that become integral to the story (a chair becomes a window, a ladder becomes a set of stairs); among the paraphernalia are cleverly tucked a rope, a knife, a gun, a wrench and a candlestick — nodding to one of the classic camp murder mysteries of our time.

Neither Ryback nor Blumenkrantz is a stellar soloist, but the verve they bring to their numbers (by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair) adds boundless humor and character. Both play the piano throughout the show, often together in a duet or switching out parts — sometimes within the same verse. They complement each other perfectly, and it’s easy to tell that they enjoy every moment of their playful yet hardworking performances. Without the burden of sincerity, they simply get to be silly and compete to out-charm the audience, which seems like quite a fun day’s work if you can get it.

Despite how much fun you have during the show, the best part is that you can be in and out with a big grin on your face in time for dinner, where you’ll undoubtedly be eager to recount the experience of “Murder for Two” to your friends.

If you go

‘Murder for Two’
Extended through Aug. 25
Second Stage Uptown
2162 Broadway (at 76th Street)
$40-$50
www.2st.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…