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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Musical Whodunit Spoof Dances On The Creative Ceiling

Murder For Two
Stage West Theatre

John Wascavage, Bradon Lambert - photos courtesy Stage West Calgary, John Watson

Your dinner theatre experience may never be the same again…

Stage West Calgary’s presentation of the musical comedy Murder For Two takes the popular venue into territory that vaults past anything you could possibly imagine - trumping even their guaranteed house-packing musical revues and Broadway production mountings.

Murder For Two is a champagne theatre experience that is right at home in this facility, yet offering a new plateau for the audiences fortunate enough to roll the dice on a feature they may have never heard of before. Tough call, as name recognition often rules the pocketbook when venturing out for an evening.

If you do attend, be prepared for manic mayhem possibly unlike anything you’ve ever seen before on any stage - two actors, multiple roles, and a musical whodunit that tests the limits of how many lines an actor could possibly memorize without being an actual teleprompter. 

In the case of the two actors last night, Brandon Lambert (Marcus, the budding detective) and John Wascavage (everyone else), despite having a runaway rollercoaster of dialogue and lyrics between them each were flawless and I think at times even tried to outdo each other. 

Add in both sharing piano duties (often at the same time!), and you still don’t come close to having any idea how anyone could pull off their assigned tasks without at least hitting a snafu once somewhere along the way. 

Photos courtesy Stage West Calgary, John Watson 

As I have to hold back a few comments for my upcoming Calgary Herald review, I’ll offer up a wee summary here - and of course I’ll post a link to the official review when that is live online.

Murder For Two sets about to showcase a hopeful detective yearning within small-town policeman Marcus Moscowicz (Lambert) hoping to attain his career ambitions by solving the murder of great American novelist Arthur Whitney at a surprise birthday party. 

Photos courtesy of Stage West Calgary, John Watson

His suspects are many, yet each one bears an uncanny resemblance to actor Wascavage - your only clue that he is a variety of distinct personalities are rotating accents and affectations - each one incrementally (and hilariously) over the top.

 While the early going is slow and a bit confusing, once you’re in on the gag, both actors showcase skill sets and talents that propel the entire proceedings on to what might be the conclusion, but there are some plot twists thrown in to suggest otherwise.

As important as each actor is, the talents of director J. Scott Lapp and choreographer Wendy Seyb contribute amply to make what seems impossible seamless and satisfying.

This is theatre at a creative high, exceeding any expectations. 

Murder For Two runs until September 3 at Stage West Calgary

5 out of 5 Stars

NOTE: Calgary Herald review is now live!