Credit: Picasa

Musicals are notoriously expensive to produce, especially shows with large
casts and a decent-size live orchestra. Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair’s
two-person murder-mystery musical (performed sans orchestra—the actors
accompany themselves) is tailor-made for theaters on a budget. (And who
isn’t?) Which may be one reason the show, after premiering in 2011 at
Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, has gone on to be produced around the world,
in both English and in translation (Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean). It
also can’t hurt that it looks like a lot of fun to do, full of
opportunities for actors to show off their performing skills (one actor
plays all the suspects, the other plays the investigator and provides most
of the musical accompaniment).

Noel Carey and Jason Grimm perform well together, and much of the
entertainment in this show comes from their considerable onstage chemistry.
Both are facile comic actors, though Grimm, who plays the suspects, earns
the most applause because his changes from one character to another are so
quick and because he’s a bit of ham. Kinosian and Blair’s book is charming,
though there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about their genre parody
or their small cast. And the story does seem to run out steam about 70
minutes into the 90-minute show. Still, Kinosian’s tunes are fresh and ear
pleasing, Blair’s lyrics are witty and literate, Carey and Grimm keep
things moving under Scott Weinstein’s direction, and the audience laughs
throughout.   v