VOL. 25 - NO. 32
AUG 2 - 9, 2020
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OAKLAND, CA 94661-0283

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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: CenterREP’s “Murder for Two” Is the Ultimate Spoof Musical Murder Mystery

Sep 06, 2019
by Jan Miller
Center Repertory Company’s production of “Murder for Two,” currently performing at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, CA. through September 29, is a musical whodunit performed cabaret-theater style by two indefatigable actors. One could say that it is part tag team, part tug of war. Eric Shorey and Eric Van Tielen play all 14 characters and also play the score on the piano – in a smart, jaunty show that transposes the English country-house mystery to small-town America

Eric Shorey, funny, graceful with natural charm, incredibly limber, and boisterously over-the-top — plays all the suspects. Eric Van Tielen, more of the straight man, though equally suited to the role of the lovable loser getting another chance at redemption — plays would-be Detective Moskowitz, who has his heart broken by a murderous femme fatale and harbours ambitions to be a detective. He seizes his big opportunity to solve a murder when a renowned writer, Arthur Witney, is shot in the head as he arrives for a birthday party that really is a surprise.

Shorey plays all the suspects, from Witney’s discontented wife Dahlia, who longs for a comeback in musical theatre, to his mistress, the winsome dancer Barette. Shorey is particularly convincing as Griff, the psychiatrist who turns out to be treating everyone present, and he also portrays three nine-year-old choir members, the sole survivors of a dreadful camping catastrophe.

The men take turns on the piano, accompanying each other when a character trots out one of the show’s goofy numbers. Occasionally, a turf battle ensues, but more commonly the fellows amicably share responsibility for providing musical punctuation in a show that is more of a sketch comedy than a traditional musical.

The proceedings unfold before the backdrop of a mansion interior — the kind where “cozy” literary homicides generally occur. But the set’s centerpiece is a grand piano, in constant use during a relay-race narrative entwined with songs

“Murder for Two” is the ultimate spoof musical murder mystery. A two-man tour-de-force stage production with lots of energy, jokes and flair to spare! So, who killed the novelist? It’s almost beside the point. The rapid-emphasis on rapid-fire timing, impressive piano playing and all-around silliness and antics are actually endearing. These two enormously gifted actors’ talents are undeniable, and the songs they sing at the piano are an entertainment unto themselves.

All in all, “Murder for Two” is magnificently acted, beautifully designed, and flawlessly directed. Put all these elements together and “Murder for Two” is one of the cheeriest theatrical evenings imaginable. It is not to be missed!

For tickets or more information please phone (925) 943-7469 or visit www.CenterREP.org.

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Photo caption: Eric Shorey and Eric Van Tielen co-star in CenterREP's production of "Murder for Two".


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