by Hiko Mitsuzuka
Take the 1985 cult classic Clue (or Neil Simon's highly underrated Murder by Death), whittle it down to a 2-man cast with one piano, add some musical numbers, and what you'll get is Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair's Murder for Two, a 90-minute whodunit that's currently running at the Laguna Playhouse through May 17.
Kyle Branzel (pictured above on the piano) and Ian Lowe prove to be a powerhouse pair, rarely coming up for air during this fabulously frantic production that sees them act and sing (not to mention, provide all the music themselves) in one continuous scene.
While Lowe fills the role of the straight man/officer who's posing as a detective to solve a murder at the home of a famous novelist, Branzel gives most of the show its charge by breathlessly playing a dozen characters. The Chicago College of Performing Arts alum wonderfully gives each suspect a distinguishable physical characteristic and never loses his grip on them. It's a performance that literally has the actor's blood, sweat, and tears all over it.
Directed by Scott Schwartz, Murder for Two is an adorably madcap mystery with a slight interactive edge -- a running gag involving a ringing cell phone and a brief moment of audience participation are fun touches.
Get your tickets here now.