PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Murder For Two Songwriters Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair Pick Songs About "Murder and Mayhem"
By Michael Gioia
Ghostlight Records digitally released the original cast recording of the Off-Broadway musical comedy Murder for Two Jan. 14. In celebration of the album release, songwriters Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair pick songs about "Murder and Mayhem" as part of this week's Playbill Playlist.
The physical CD, scheduled to hit shelves Feb. 11, will feature complete lyrics, never-before-seen photos, a show synopsis by creators Kinosian and Blair and an essay by Oscar and Grammy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz.
Here's how the musical is billed: "Everyone is a suspect in Murder For Two, a hilarious musical murder mystery with a twist: one actor (Brett Ryback) investigates the crime, the other plays all of the suspects (Jeff Blumenkrantz) and they both play the piano! A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this 90-minute whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with killer laughs."
Kinosian and Blair are the recipients of the 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award, recognizing Murder for Two as the Best New Musical Work in Chicago following its seven-month run at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Prior to Chicago, developmental productions took place at the Adirondack Theater Festival, the Hangar Theater and 42nd Street Moon. Their work has been showcased recently at the York Theater's 2012 NEO Concert, The Kennedy Center's Broadway Today and Tomorrow series, The Kauffman Center's Bound for Broadway concert and a November 2012 New York Theatre Barn Concert. Past work includes Pirates Don't Change Diapers for TheatreWorks USA.
As previously reported, composer Kinosian will reprise his Jefferson Award-nominated performance as The Suspects in Murder For Two beginning Jan. 20. He will succeed Jeff Blumenkrantz, who will play his final performance Jan. 19, 2014.
"Subway Song" (The Cure). …Our vote for the scariest pop song of all time. It's an entire horror movie about a brand of urban paranoia any New Yorker can relate to, all accomplished in under two minutes. Listen to the end…if you dare!
"To Keep My Love Alive" (Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart). The obvious choice for best traditional musical theatre song about murder. Only Rodgers and Hart could make the terrible things she's saying so lighthearted and tuneful.
"Goodbye Earl" (Dixie Chicks). The sordid tale of a most deserving victim — definitely the most upbeat song about spousal abuse. The line "turned out he was a missing person/who nobody missed at all" is brilliant.
"Mack the Knife" (Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht). We think a lot of people play this infectiously catchy tune in the background at parties and have no idea it's telling the story of a ruthless killer. The swinging fun music and the gruesome imagery make for a delightful juxtaposition.
"The Waitress" (Tori Amos). One of Amos' most fun songs, detailing her poorly suppressed desire to kill a co-worker. There may never be a rejoinder as perfectly succinct as "But I believe in peace, bitch."
"Say That We're Sweethearts Again" (Earl K Brent). This song is funny and catchy and downright BIZARRE. It's a wonderful, weird gem from the 40s and definitely a song we would've loved to have written if it didn't already exist.
"Murder in Mairyland Park" (Stina Nordenstam). With her unique voice and knack for cueing into the underlying (sometimes devious) longing in everyday exchanges, Stina Nordernstam is one of the best singer-songwriters of the last 25 years. Knowing her work feels like being privy to a whole secret world, and this mysterious, haunting song encapsulates that beautifully.
"A Little Priest" (Stephen Sondheim). Who says killing and eating people can’t be incredibly funny? This is definitely the guidebook for writing a disturbingly clever musical theatre song. It's also kind of the guidebook for writing a song period.
"Murder She Wrote" Theme (John Addison). The moral from all 12 seasons of "Murder She Wrote is simple: STAY AWAY FROM JESSICA FLETCHER. You will die.
"Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" (Tom Lehrer). We love the irreverent stylings of Tom Lehrer, especially this demented classic. We could say more, but the title pretty much spells it out for you.
"I've Committed Murder" (Macy Gray). A cheeky three-act pop musical about a love triangle that ends beautifully for the illicit lovers... and not well at all for the shrewish wife.
"Those Were the Good Old Days" (Richard Adler and Jerry Ross). A wonderful song from Damn Yankees and yet another example of juxtaposing lighthearted music with gruesome imagery…certainly a recipe for a good musical comedy song about murder and mayhem. Unless you want to try juxtaposing gruesome music with totally innocent imagery. We'd really like to see that, so consider this a challenge, world!
"World Encyclopedia of 20th Century Murder" (The Lucksmiths). A nice tie-in to our show Murder For Two, this song from Australian pop-rockers The Lucksmiths has a tasteful literary spin. Who doesn't love to curl up with a good Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers... or Arthur Whitney?
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