It takes serious talent to be able to play multiple characters. Particularly if you have to do character changes on a dime. Even more so if you have to accompany yourself on the piano! You won’t see these guys complaining though; each one of the cast members (including the understudies) takes on the challenge with aplomb. Let’s get to know them a bit better in this week’s edition of #MurderousMondays!

Kyle Branzel

The Suspects
Kyle has been seen on the national tour of HENRY AND MUDGE, and in regional productions nationwide, including FOOTLOOSE (Willard), GUYS AND DOLLS (Benny), and YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN (Schroeder). Kyle actually was first an understudy on the national tour of MURDER FOR TWO; he took over the role of The Suspects just a few months ago!

What excites you about MURDER FOR TWO?
It’s exciting to me that the show is so unique and special and that not very many audience members actually know what they’re getting themselves into until it starts! Generally, people read the website ahead of time and know there are multiple characters and a piano involved, but the show has been so expertly crafted by the writers and the creative team that we’re constantly playing with the audience’s expectations and having fun messing with them! It’s one of those evenings where you just don’t know what’s coming next and (usually) that results in a lot of laughter!

How did you become involved with this show?
I actually happened to see one of the first incarnations of this show when I was going to college in Chicago… I went with a friend on a whim because he said he thought it might be interesting. After watching composer and co-book writer Joe Kinosian masterfully take on 10 different characters as The Suspects, all while playing the piano, my face hurt from laughing so hard and I was like, “I gotta get in this show!!!” By the time I graduated and finished my first professional touring gig, I got back to New York to discover that MURDER FOR TWO was running Off Broadway and looking to cast understudies. Needless to say, I RAN to the audition and six months of callbacks later, we launched the tour and I got to be Joe’s understudy. He left the tour recently to go write more hilarious musicals, and I became the new him!

Who is your favorite character in the show?
Well, I have a lot of favorites. I love Dahlia Whitney because she’s absolutely outrageous and you never know what’s going to come out of her mouth. I love Steph Whitney because she’s wonderfully desperate and tragic and the victim of unrequited love. And I love Barrette Lewis because honestly, it’s really fun for me, a 6-foot-2 lanky actor, to get to play a ridiculous prima ballerina.

What’s your favorite song to perform? Why?
Hard to say because I’m such a fan of all of them! If I had to pick one, I think I’d choose “So What?” It’s the ballerina’s big moment, so not only do I get to sing this deliciously evil song, there’s a hilarious “dream ballet” in the middle of it as well as a fun four-hand piano duet with my co-star, Ian Lowe. So it’s sort all of the elements of our show rolled into one song and it’s great fun to perform! I can’t wait for you to see it!!!

Ian Lowe

Marcus
Ian has been with the national tour of MURDER FOR TWO since it started back at Arizona Theatre Company. He was also a member of the off-Broadway cast at New World Stages. Other Off-Broadway credits included NIKOLAI AND THE OTHERS (Lincoln Center Theatre), BAYONETS OF ANGEST, and 12TH NIGHT. Regionally, he’s been seen in plays and musicals at Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, Adironack Theatre Festival, Capital Rep, Pittsburgh CLO, Riverside Theater, Charleston Stage, Dorset Theater Festival, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Ivoryton Playhouse and others. 

What excites you about MURDER FOR TWO?
MURDER FOR TWO is a very demanding show for a performer, and for me, personally, I find that quite exciting. It calls upon a wide variety of skill sets — firstly, it is a farcical comedy that doesn’t quit for 90 minutes, so all that requires a tremendous amount of mental focus, physical and vocal energy, and commitment to the circumstances. Secondly, it’s a musical with plenty of singing and dancing. And then finally, there’s this huge piano component since both Kyle and I provide all of the accompaniment throughout the show (fully memorized) in addition to doing actor duty. It’s definitely the most challenging show I’ve done to this point in my theater career and that’s part of the reason why it’s so fun to do every night.

How did you become involved with this show?
I’ve done a number of shows that called for piano-playing actors so when MURDER FOR TWO came on the regional scene in 2010 or so, I had it on my radar as something I wanted to do. And then when I finally read the script, I was in love and knew it was something I NEEDED to do! I auditioned for Joe Kinosian, Kellen Blair (the writers), Scott Schwartz and the creative team a few times over a period and finally there was an opening for a Marcus understudy in the off-Broadway company in spring of 2014. I understudied for about a month, learned the show, and got to go on once in New York (which was exciting and terrifying!) After the off-Broadway production closed, I was asked to do the national tour which we launched in the fall of 14 at the Arizona Theater Company, followed by The Old Globe.

Who is your favorite character in the show?
Well, that’s an easier question for me than Kyle since I only play one character – Detective Marcus! But I really do love all the Suspects too, particularly Dahlia Whitney, the widow of our murder victim. She’s hilarious. And hugely aggravating to Marcus.

What’s your favorite song to perform? Why?
I love doing Marcus’ solo number “Protocol Says” since it sets up the character and everything that he is about. There are also a few moments in the show where Kyle and I play piano at the same time (4 hands) and those are a lot of fun musically.

Martin Landry

Understudy- The Suspects 
Martin has been seen in New York productions of TIL DIVORCE DO US PART (DR2 Theatre), IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY (Harbor Lights Theatre Company), SON OF A GUN (Theatre Row), DEAR EDWINA (DR2 Theatre), BRUNCH – THE MUSICAL (ATA – Chernuchin), and THE OHMIES (Peter Jay Sharp Theatre). He also appeared in the world premiere of OF MICE AND MANHATTAN at the Kennedy Center, debuting previously unheard Frank Loesser songs. Additionally, Martin is a published composer/lyricist, and his full-length musical ESTHER (co-written with his wife, Janice) has been produced over 40 times in five countries!

What excites you about MURDER FOR TWO?
Everything! This show is just the complete package; laugh-out-loud comedy, well-crafted music and lyrics, and a satisfying mystery, all jumbled up together. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

How did you become involved with this show?
I’m actually friends with Joe and Kellen (the writers), and saw the first regional production in 2010, with Joe playing “The Suspects.” I was floored by his performance, and immediately obsessed with the show. I like to think my persistent, not-so-subtle questions about auditioning strained our friendships and broke them down to the point where they pulled some strings and got me in. Worth it!

Who is your favorite character in the show?
The Ultimate Choice. I’m afraid I can’t pick just one, so I’m gonna give you a few options. . . Dahlia Whitney (because she is completely and deliciously out of her mind), Detective Marcus (because he is the anchor in reality amidst an ocean of insanity, and the true heart of the show), and Henry Vivaldi, depending on the night. Come see the show more than once, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

What’s your favorite song to perform? Why?
“Steppin’ Out of the Shadows.” The first time I saw Joe do this, I was sweating from laughing so hard. Even the stodgiest opponent of all things musical theatre would be won over by this song.

 

Brandon Lambert

Understudy- Marcus
Brandon has been seen in regional productions of PLAID TIDINGS (Pittsburgh CLO), BORN YESTERDAY (Pittsburgh Public Theater), LEGALLY BLONDE (Pitts- burgh Musical Theatre), and NATOMA (Victor Herbert Renaissance Project). Additionally, he won the Pittsburgh Concert Society Young Artist Competition, placed 3rd in the Solon Center of the Arts Concer- to Competition, and participated in the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Young Composer Program.

What excites you about MURDER FOR TWO?
I remember seeing the show Off-Broadway for the first time before I had any idea I’d one day be a part of the show. I’d never laughed so hard at a show in my life (don’t tell Book of Mormon…)

How did you become involved with this show?
I auditioned for the first regional production at the Pittsburgh CLO and was cast as Marcus. Joe Kinosian (the composer/ Suspects) and Ian Lowe did the show for the first month, so it was really cool to learn the show by watching them.

Who is your favorite character in the show?
Besides Marcus? My favorite suspect is Barrette. She’s so beautiful, so elegant, so flexible. What’s not to like?

What’s your favorite song to perform? Why?
I love “He Needs a Partner.” My Mom always put on Delilah as a kid, so I’m a sucker for love songs. Plus the last lyric always brings a tear to my eye… Of laughter.

P.S.- Miss an edition of #MurderousMondays? Here’s a full list for you! 
#MurderousMondays- Meet the Writers
#MurderousMondays- Get a Taste of MURDER FOR TWO
#MurderousMondays- 9 Days from Opening Night
#MurderousMondays- Meet the Characters

Lyric at the Harn Homestead

Lyric's A Christmas Carol 2022

November 16, 2022 – December 23, 2022