Posted in musical comedy, sketches, skits, slapstick

"Murder for Two" Is Just Deadly

Brett Ryback as the detective and Jeff Blumenkrantz as all 13 suspects in “Murder for Two” at 2nd Stage Theatre Uptown. Photo by Joan Marcus

Normally a double homicide is an agreeable if grisly TV staple and a pleasant way to  pass the time.

In “Murder for Two,” at the McGinn/Cazale, Second Stage’s uptown showcase, the crime is in the ridiculous premise.

Taste and sense have been cruelly killed. Comedy has been bludgeoned and all the fun of slapstick was butchered. “Murder for Two” is dull and annoying when it should be cute and winsome.

Jeff Blumenkrantz in one of his 13 guises and Brett Ryback as the investigator in “Murder for Two.
 Photo by Joan Marcus

In “Murder for Two,” a new musical by Joe Kinosian (book and music) and Kellen Blair (book and lyrics), there is a murder at a birthday party.  Jeff Blumenkrantz plays all the suspects while Brett Ryback plays a cop named Marcus. While not quite enough to recommend this foolish little skit masquerading as musical comedy, Beowulf Boritt has gone all-out in designing the elaborate set, framing the action inside a panelled arch.

In the interest of offering a balanced view, we note that “Murder for Two” was a hit in Chicago in 2010.
Nonetheless, this reviewer found that although it is  a mere 90 minutes with no intermission, “Murder for Two” is overlong.

For more information about “Murder for Two,” visit www.2ndst.com.

Posted in Bill Irwin, clowning, clowns, comedy, David Shiner, Nellie McKsy, pantomime, slapstick

Nothing "old hat" about "Old hats"

There are times when there is nothing better than to be proven wrong. Pantomime and slapstick are two genres of comedy that have always left this reviewer unimpressed.

“Old Hats,” at Signature Theatre’s new Pershing Square Signature Center,  already extended through April 14th,  is a hilarious array of vignettes which tickled every funny bone in my body.

Photo by Gregory Costanzo. Bill Irwin and David  Shiner in “Old Hats,” directed by Tina Landau
and featuring Nellie McKay.

David Shiner and Bill Irwin are the brilliant clowns and playwrights for this original theater piece. Nellie McKay contributes her skills as narrator, music director, composer, pianist, cellist and ukeleist to the entertainment. Nellie McKay sings and dances, to the able accompaniment of her band of merry men–
Alexi david on bass, Mike Dobson on percussions, Tivon Pennicott playing sax and flute, and Kenneth Salters on drums and assisting as the bartender in the “Cowboy Cinema” segment of “Old Hats.”

There is foolishness a plenty, and audience participation, in the above mentioned “Cowboy Cinema” and in the marvellous “A Magic Act,” for which Irwin gets to don a dress and show off his legs.

“Old Hats” will appeal to even the curmudgeons among us, as attested to by my delight in the program.

For more information about “Old Hats,” please  visit www.signaturetheatre.org/

Posted in also a film, comedy, ensemble acting, satire, slapstick, Woody Harrelson

Baiting The Trap in "Bullet for Adolf"

BTW, It’s extended through October 21st! 

 (L-R) Shamika Cotton, Tyler Jacob Rollinson, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Shannon Garland, Lee Osorio, Brandon Coffey, and David Coomber in a scene from Woody Harrelson & Frankie Hyman’s “Bullet for Adolf” at New World Stages. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

 Sometimes silliness is so sublime (think Marx Brothers) it feels like a gift from above.

(L-R) Tyler Jacob Rollinson and Lee Osorio in a scene from Woody Harrelson & Frankie Hyman’s “Bullet for Adolf” at New World Stages. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

“Bullet for Adolf,”at New World Stages through September 9th, has the finely-honed madcap just right.
Frankie Hyman and Woody Harrelson have penned a rambling, nutty satiric comedy which Harrelson also directs at a pace that encourages the meandering spirit of the piece to find its own way.



 Brandon Coffey and Marsha Stephanie Blake in a scene from Woody Harrelson & Frankie Hyman’s “Bullet for Adolf” at New World Stages. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg


Tastelessness is high art in  “Bullet for Adolf.” The plot is thin but meaty and involves the theft of a WWII artifact.

Prepare for rousing displays of misogyny and racism along with sweetly-wrought foul language. “Bullet for Adolf” hits many a social target. 
In a fine ensemble of doers and slackers, Marsha Stephanie Blake as Shareeta does a stand-out job. The sets, designed by Dane Laffrey, go from sparse to plush while we are distracted by a vintage 1983 video montage in the production design from Imaginary Media.   
“Bullet for Adolf” is unabashedly offensive, and extremely funny.
For a schedule of performance and ticket information for  “Bullet for Adolf,” visit http://www.bulletforadolf.com/
Posted in comedy, play readings, slapstick, theatrical events

An Endless Variety of Entertainments

Canal Park Playhouse offers theater off the beaten path. Yes, it is geographically all the way on the far end of Canal over by the Hudson River.

Canal Park Playhouse is also an unusual venue because of its quaint landmarked setting in an 1828 canal house.

Most importantly for theater lovers, though, is the mix of surprising programming to be found at this lovely little theater.

For instance, weekends from April 21st to May 13th, “Drew the Dramatic Fool” (Drew Richardson)

brings his comedic sadsack “bumbling” to the Matinee/Brunch series. On Friday evenings from April 20th to May 11th, Drew gives slapstick a distinct edge in a show called “Help! Help! I Know This Title Is Too Long, But Somebody’s Trying To Kill Me.”

The recently launched “Play readings in the back room” are hosted by playwrights Joe Roland and Emily Devoti. Beginning on June 20th and running through July 15th from Wednesday through Saturday, come hear Frank McGuiness’s “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me.”

Visit http://canalparkplayhouse.com/ for more information on these programs.