Cincinnati Playhouse Brings Murder, Intrigue and Hilarity in May with MURDER FOR TWO


Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.

Zany comedy MURDER FOR TWO runs May 5-June 10

CINCINNATI—Who killed the great American novelist Arthur Whitney? That’s what audiences will wonder when MURDER FOR TWO opens May 5 at Cincinnati Playhouse. The riotous two-person musical comedy — which The New York Times called “ingenious”— runs through June 10 (Opening Night is May 10).

When Whitney is found dead in his isolated, rural mansion on the night of his surprise birthday party, every guest has a motive. Could it be his loopy, scene-stealing widow? Or the glamorous but menacing, prima ballerina? Maybe it’s the loose-lipped, overly friendly psychiatrist? The mystery unfolds in hilarious fashion as one actor plays an overwhelmed detective and another plays a dozen suspects — and they both play piano.

Written and composed by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, MURDER FOR TWO is a comical throwback to classic whodunit novels of the 1920s and is performed with zany, vaudevillian sensibility.

“Early on we had the idea: what if the Marx Brothers performed an Agatha Christie play?” Blair explained in an interview with 5th Avenue Theatre. “The detective would be trying to take things seriously because the stakes would be so high, but inevitably things would just devolve into chaos.”

The result is a highly entertaining farce defined by its exaggerated characters, music hall entertainment and silent film-style comedy. And the results speak for themselves: when MURDER FOR TWO made its world premiere at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in May of 2011, it was extended four times and ran for a total of six months. Its off-Broadway production at Second Stage Theatre was extended twice before it was transferred to off-Broadway’s New World Stages for a nine-month run. The musical then enjoyed an 18-month national tour and nominations from the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel awards. Kinosian and Blair also won the 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical Work.

The Playhouse’s production of MURDER FOR TWO is directed by Paul Mason Barnes, who makes his Playhouse debut with the musical comedy. Directing credits across the country include the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Denver Center Theatre Company andthe Folger Shakespeare Theatre, among many others. He is a founding producing director of the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota, and of the Oregon Cabaret Theatre.

“Kinosian and Blair have framed a fun and delightfully intriguing story with a delectable confection of zaniness and style,” says Barnes. “My job will be to honor their story and the style with which they’ve chosen to tell their story as best as best I know how.”

Eric Shorey (The Suspects); Eric Van Tielen (Marcus Moscowicz)

Paul Mason Barnes (Director); Bill Clarke (Set Designer); Tracy Dorman (Costume Designer); Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz (Lighting Designer); Jason Sebastian (Sound Designer); Stephen Goers (Music Director); Stephanie Klapper (Casting Director); Jenifer Morrow (Production Stage Manager)

Physical Comedy Workshop
May 19, at 10 a.m. at the Playhouse.

Get out of your head and into your body with physical comedy in the style of MURDER FOR TWO! Make audiences laugh while exploring the potential of space and movement for the stage with a Playhouse resident teaching artist. Adults and teens ages 16 and up with all skill levels are welcome! Cost is $50 per person and does not include a ticket to the show.

Playhouse Pride Night
June 1, pre-show party at 6 p.m., with 8 p.m. performance and post-show party

Now in its fourth year, Playhouse Pride provides an opportunity for LGBTQIA community members and allies to gather together and enjoy a performance. In partnership with ArtsWave Pride.The full Pride Night package is $90 per person and includes:

Pre-show party at 6 p.m. with live entertainment, open bar and horsd’oeuvres; Performance at 8 p.m. Post-show party with open bar and a DJ.
A portion of the proceeds benefits the Transgender Health Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, a non-profit organization that provides an accepting atmosphere and healthcare services for patients 5 to 24 years old
Regularly priced tickets to the show start at $45 and include the post-show party only with cash bar. Subscription tickets already scheduled for June 1 include the post-show party with cash bar. Subscribers may upgrade their tickets to the entire Pride Night package for $35.

Evening performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays start at 7:30 p.m; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. Matinee performance on Saturdays start at 4pm, Sundays at 2 p.m. as well as Wednesday, May 30, at 1 p.m. Meet the Artists are scheduled after matinee performances on May 13 and May 20, as well as after evening performances on May 23 and 30.

Prices for MURDER FOR TWO start at $35 depending on seat selection and performance day and are subject to change. Tickets for teens and students are $30. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show. Plus, Sunday is College Night, with tickets to all 7 p.m. performances just $10. In addition to calling the Box Office, tickets can also be purchased by visiting the Playhouse website at

The Playhouse is fully accessible. Large print programs and hearing enhancement receivers are available upon request.

513-421-3888 or 800-582-3208 toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana; or 513-345-2248 – TDD access (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf).

Playhouse Pride is the Artist sponsor. Production Sponsor is The Daley Family Foundation.
Huntington Bank is Design Sponsor, and Honorary Producers are Charles and Joan Mead.

The Shelterhouse Theatre Season is presented by Heidelberg Distributing Company. The Season Sponsor of New Work is The Rosenthal Family Foundation. The Shelterhouse Theatre Season Design Sponsor is Allan Berliant and Jennie Rosenthal Berliant Family Fund. The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust provided additional support.

The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of more than 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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