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
National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Local

VIDEO: NYPD seeks shooter in East New York…

Cops are on the lookout for an unknown shooter who aimed and missed hitting a man on a bicycle, instead nearly striking a nearby officer in East New York.

Local

NYS state forces thrift shops comply with ban…

Nine New York City thrift shops were reprimanded by the state attorney general for selling children's clothes with drawstrings around the neck and waist.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 11,…

Caleb's not a ghost. Spencer might still be an attempted murderer. And Hanna's going to die next week. In other words, we actually got some…

Movies

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

Marvel Entertainment's Stan Lee is adding outposts to his creative empire to interest a new generation of children in super heroes of all shapes and sizes.

Television

Mira Sorvino explores immortality on 'Intruders'

Mira Sorvino's new show "Intruders" centers around a secret society that achieves immortality by taking over the bodies of other people.

Television

5 things you need to know about new…

"Doctor Who" returns Saturday with a new star, Peter Capaldi. Here's some things to know about him (mainly his turn as sweary spin doctor Malcolm Tucker).

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

NFL

David Wilson returns to triple jump, sets sights…

Giants fans know David Wilson can jump. They are just more used to seeing him go for backflips, not distance.

Style

11 timeless gifts for registries or just because

Gifts to prove you're a style maven once and for all.

Parenting

How everyday moments can inspire kids' creativity

"The Artist's Way for Parents" author Julia Cameron gives advice on how parents and children can be creative together.

Tech

How to stay safe online

Stop worrying about keeping your online passwords safe, and start worrying about keeping your username a secret. Actually, worry about both. According to Shaun Murphy…

Tech

OpenTable now lets you pay your bill via…

The restaurant app OpenTable added the ability to pay your bill (and tip) with your phone, thus cutting back on a few dining annoyances.