Fun and hilarity abound in North Carolina Theatre’s latest production of Murder for Two, a hilarious musical comedy written by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, under the direction of J. Scott Lapp.
This unique whodunit mystery is like nothing viewers have seen before. That’s because only two piano-playing actors carry the whole script, including innocent-faced Brandon Lambert as ambitious officer Marcus Moscowicz, and the hilarious and hugely talented Martin Landry as…well…everyone else. Thirteen characters exist within this short script, but these two actors manage to embody them all.
Brandon Lambert (left) stars as would-be detective Marcus Moscowicz and Martin Landry plays all of The Suspects in NCT’s production of Murder for Two (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)
While it might seem that the “hook” of having one actor do so many parts would grow old as the show marches on, it doesn’t. Thanks to Landry’s mastery, it actually grows more fascinating. He deftly moves from one character to the next, cleverly utilizing repeated mannerisms and movements and small accessories so that viewers, amazingly, never get confused about who he is portraying and when. In fact, that’s part of the magic of this show because, by the time it’s over, viewers will feel as if each character was real and present…even though they’re all embodied in one person.
All of these “real and present” characters gather together for a surprise party for local novelist, Arthur Whitney. Unfortunately, in Agatha Christie style, he’s shot dead before he even gets to sample the cake, and everyone present at the party is deemed a suspect. That’s when Landry’s inexperienced Moscowicz comes in. Desperate to prove he’s worthy of detective status, Marcus attempts to solve the crime and wrangle the hilarious “cast” of characters at the same time.
And, while Lambert might not have quite as much to do as Landry, he’s endearing nonetheless. He charms audiences with his early performance of “Protocol Says,” which sets Marcus up as a straightforward character who believes in easy answers. Later, Lambert makes his character’s growth evident, helping to bring the story full-circle.
Brandon Lambert stars as wannabe detective Marcus Moscowicz (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)
Lambert isn’t the only one with singing skills to display. Landry nails all of his numbers, but especially shines with “A Perfectly Lovely Surprise,” which he sings as Dahlia Whitney, wife of the murdered Mr. Whitney.
Even more impressive than the tongue-in-cheek songs is the chemistry shared between the two leads. Playing off of each other’s energy and occasionally forcing one another into scene-breaking laughter, it’s obvious these two love working together. That love and energy creates a special magic onstage that makes this show even more fun and enjoyable. It also doesn’t hurt that they add in local touches, like one character donning a Hurricanes hat, as well as plenty of nods to the local theatre scene.
All of this fun plays out on a cute, simple set that emits a perfectly spooky ambiance. With flickering lights, exposed brick, and a piano front and center, the old-fashioned feel of the set perfectly prepares viewers for the comedy and mystery mashup that is the hilarious, must-see Murder for Two, onstage through May 5th.
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