Every fingerprint fits a hand and if you’re willing to understand that protocol says— you must get a ticket to see the only mainstage show at Infinity Theatre Company this 2018 season! Making its regional area premiere, Murder For Two settles into the Broadway-quality professional summer theatre of Annapolis under the direction of the company’s co-producing Artistic Director Alan Ostroff. With zany Book & Music by Joe Kinosian and Book & Lyrics by Kellen Blair, this daring and dazzlingly hilarious two-person musical comedy will roll you in the aisles with laughter all night long. Starring Eric Longo and John Wasavage with the choreography of Kimberly Schafer, this uproarious musical is an homage and a send-up to whodunit-style shows everywhere.
It’s practically a blank stage, a far cry from lavish sets that often accompany musicals, but so much the better for engaging the imagination. Two doors, one baby grand, and two actors, the decision of Scenic Consultant Trenae Waller makes the audience delve headlong into the magical belief of theatre. Costume Designer Molly Walz follows suit, giving just the subtlest of costume accessories to John Wascavage, who plays ten different suspects over the course of the evening. A feather boa for the self-incriminating ballerina, jaunty red glasses for the victim’s loopy widow, and a precociously precious newsboy cap for the various youngsters in the boys’ choir, all of which enhance Wascavage’s lightening transitions from character to character.
The third unseen character in the production isn’t Officer Lou (who is in fact an invisible character to whom both actors persistently refer) but rather the beautiful baby grand piano around which the musical focus of the show is presented. Wascavage, who is responsible for the show’s musical direction, takes turns tickling the ivories opposite Longo; the pair possess extraordinary pianist skills, showing off with flashy moves throughout the performance, which only serve to heighten the entertainment and oft times the hilarity of the experience. Both Longo and Wascavage’s ability to plink out complex melodies whilst the other (and at times themselves) are singing is quite the feat that really wows the audience.
Director Alan Ostroff runs a tight ship; the show’s only downfall is the decision to include an intermission in the otherwise perfectly-paced show. This brief pause in the show’s momentum doesn’t disrupt the flow of the narrative so much as it does the comedic build-up of the events of the evening and when the actors return from the interval, explosions of comedy feel as if they come out of nowhere, almost blindsiding the audience with their funny. This aside, the character swaps, that are primarily the responsibility of Wascavage, along with the character depth of The Detective, which sits on Longo’s shoulders, are clean, crisp, and make for an exceptional production.
The pair of Longo and Wascavage is undeniably a perfect one when it comes to tackling Murder For Two. They play off one another with gusto, each guiding and pulling one another through the rapid-fire scenes as they unfold and the story gets stranger and more hilarious. While Longo only plays The Detective, he’s every bit engaging with his one character as Wascavage is with his nearly dozen different character creations. Both are strong triple-threat performers, having solid and clear singing capabilities as well as strong movement abilities and fantastical comedic timing.
Longo’s Detective is sincere; even when the comedic scenes are high-octane and roaring forward in true laugh-a-minute style, Longo is playing the character for truth. Delivering a consistently clean and clear sound for numbers like “A Friend Like You” and a perfectly articulate and pointed patter during “Protocol Says”, Longo masterfully molds The Detective character into someone the audience can readily cheer for and love. Most often at the piano, Longo’s fancy finger-work is breathtaking and really amps up the bar of talent exhibited in the production.
Wascavage plays too many characters to choose a favorite but what’s most impressive about his repertoire is the distinct differences between each character and the physical shenanigans he engages to execute quick changes between them. The furiously fast flip-flop between Barb & Murray Flandon, especially when singing in two different voices and styles during “It Was Her” is maniacally uproarious. And when he transforms into Timmy, Yonkers, and Skid to perform “A Lot Woise” it’s adorable antics to the extreme. The unique physicality that accompanies each of Wascavage’s characters is a real scream and his vocal affectations are a true hoot. He sings his way through all these characters— with Henry Vivaldi’s nonsensical shenanigans being the bit that nearly cracks his stage partner to pieces— vocally loaded and ready to laugh the audience to death with all the fun he’s presenting.
Every puzzle piece holds a clue and remember the most important piece of the puzzle is you— for without an audience there truly is no show, so be sure to get your tickets, pack your bags, and go! On a wild and zany ride through an evening of great fun, you must catch Murder For Two because it’s the only one— main stage show with Infinity Theatre Company that’s happening this summer, and if you miss this brilliant show, that would be a bummer.
Running Time: Approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes with one intermission
Murder For Two plays through August 5, 2018 at Infinity Theatre Company at The Children’s Theatre of Annapolis Complex— 1661 Bay Head Road in Annapolis, MD. For tickets call the box office at (877) 501-8499 or purchase them online.