Adam Ovrett at the keyboard with Joe Kinosian reaching for an alibi when 42ND Street Moon presents a Company first: The west Coast Premiere of Murder For Two.

MURDER FOR TWO: A KILLER MUSICAl. Book by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian. Music by Joe Kinosian, Lyrics by Kellen Blair. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., San Francisco Box Office: 415/255-8207 or Thru November 21, 2010.


42nd Street Moon has strayed from the tried and true format of producing uncommon musicals of the past by presenting a NEW musical: Murder for Two: A Killer Musical (MFT) in it’s West Coast premiere. It appears to be a stripped down version of the popular Broadway romp of Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps where four characters play a multitude of roles. Two actors play10 characters in this new musical by talented Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair who premiered their work last fall run at the Adirondack Theatre Festival. Joe Kinosian and Adam Overett are those two actors. Both play the piano proficiently, have a fine comic sense of timing and have enough energy for a half dozen shows but it is lanky, limber-limbed Kinosian who works up a sweat as puts his limbs and torso into contortions you have to see to believe.

MFT is a murder mystery reminiscent of the worst of Agatha Christie on a charming atmospheric set adorned with heavy blood red, tie back drapes, an Oriental screen, a gilt-edged empty picture frame, a moveable wingback chair and of course the grand piano. Like many of Agatha’s books there is the proverbial blackout before the lights come up to find the body of the famous novelist Stephen Whitney assuredly dead in the center of his living room and in plain sight of a plethora of witnesses all of whom are suspects.

Enter Officer Marcus Moscowicz (Adam Ovrett) attempting to solve the case with irreverent, sometimes relevant, questioning the parade of characters all played by Kinosian. The first to be questioned is the rattle-brained wife of the deceased. Kinosian’s depiction of her mannerisms is a hoot and a holler accentuated by clever sound effects and an occasional piano riff. His split second shifts in demeanor are laudable and just needs a few more performances to smooth out the transitions. He physically works up a sweat flouncing about, from chair to screen, to center stage and to the piano with songs thrown in. Adam Overett stays in character and is a marvelous sounding board for the zany antics of Kinosian. Their dual shenanigans on the piano are gems of comic timing and that alone is worth a trip to the Eureka Theatre.

The other characters are a sexy ballerina, a know it all psychiatrist and include three members of a boy’s choir named Timmy, Yonkers and Skid that Kinosian bring to life with their idiosyncrasies as he nails their foibles in voice and body language while he is on his knees! Songs by Kellen Blair and Kinosian are integrated into the dialog. The clever songs fit into the plot like an intricate crossword puzzle but are not particularly memorable even though the titles such as “Solving the Crime”, “Protocol Says”, and “Waiting in the Dark” dove tail into the plot line. “Friends Like You”, and He Needs a Partner” are spoofs of derivative love songs.

But who needs memorable songs in a well written musical spoof of the murder mystery genre that had half the audience giving it a standing ovation although more mature audience members were expecting the usual 42nd Street fare of uncommon musicals of the past. They will have their expectations met with Babes in Arms beginning in December.

Running time 95 minutes.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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