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'Murder for Two' is amazingly fun

Opening night at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad ended in a roar. The musical, "Murder for Two," is a fast-paced whodunit performed by a versatile, wacky duo playing 13 different characters.

In 90 minutes of rapid-fire changes, co-stars JD Dumas and Tony Houck deliver snappy tunes both at and around the piano. They never miss a beat either singing or sharing the 88.

The song "Protocol Says" outlines how to conduct a murder investigation for officer Marcus Moscowicz played by JD Dumas. As Moscowicz follows procedures conducting interviews, it is Houck who transitions fluidly into all of the suspects.

It's a nonstop romp, beginning with audience instructions on how to yell "surprise" when the lights come back on as the birthday honoree, Arthur Whitney, the great American novelist arrives. Regrettably, he arrives dead.

Houck takes an "oh, dear" moment as the new widow Dahlia before sliding in as prima ballerina Barrette Lewis, who then brings forward Dr. Griff, a famous psychiatrist, followed by the two murder victims and three children – all – without leaving the stage. Whew.

A well-deserved standing ovation was delivered by the crowd for duel piano co-stars Dumas and Houck.

They were so absorbed in their performances – Houck looked out at the audience and whispered to Dumas, "They're still standing."

This wacky two-man show was developed for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2011 by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian. I know. It sounds more like a Second City sketch. It is really silly. The only missing ingredient to the nonsense was a walk-on by Monty Python.

Directed by AJ Knox, the silliness never falters. Working alongside is the NVA creative ensemble with Jenna Ingrassia-Knox designing the choreography, Paul Canaletti Jr. as the lighting designer, Violet Ceja as the sound designer and Doug Cumming the set designer. Keira McGee gets the credit as costume designer.

The madcap musical "Murder for Two" plays at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, in Carlsbad until March 1. Box Office (760) 433-3245 or visit The Carlsbad theater is just in front of the Amtrak Coaster station with plenty of free parking. This show is rated 9 out of 10.

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached by email at [email protected].


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