‘Murder for Two’ Gets Milwaukee Debut
Wauwatosa native Joe Kinosian co-wrote the musical comedy and will star in The Rep's upcoming production
By Stephanie Harte
Photo Credit: Milwaukee Repertory Theater
A bickering married couple, a devious diva and a pesky niece are just some of the nine roles Joe Kinosian, a Milwaukee High School of the Arts graduate, will play in The Rep’s upcoming production of Murder for Two.
Not only will the Wauwatosa native star in Murder for Two, but he also co-wrote the play with Kellen Blair. Kinosian first met Blair at the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop in Manhattan in 2008, and the two have been collaborating on projects since. Murder for Two ran Off-Broadway in 2013 and has sold out shows across the country since its world premiere at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2011.
“It’s been really great to have Joe in the room as the playwright,” Director JC Clementz said. “As a director you’re always asking yourself, ‘what was the playwright’s intention behind this line?’ In this case I can just go “hey Joe what was your intention behind this line?’”
Matt Edmonds, a Chicago actor who has starred in shows at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater and Chicago Shakespeare Theater, will join Kinosian on the Stackner Cabaret stage. Edmonds will be playing Officer Marcus Moscowicz, while Kinosian will play all the suspects. As if these two actors weren’t already doing enough throughout the production, they both play the piano as well.
“I think a big part of directing is getting the right people in the room, and in this case we have the best cast I can think of,” Clementz said. “They are both such funny guys.”
In Murder For Two, Edmonds’ character is a small town policeman with dreams of making it to detective. After shots ring out at the surprise party for Great American Novelist Arthur Whitney, the writer is fatally killed. Marcus ceases the opportunity to prove his skills with the help of his silent partner Lou. Kinosian then comes forward to present himself as a variety of suspects, from Arthur’s wife Dahlia, to an overly-friendly psychiatrist named Dr. Griff.
Clementz recalled first reading the script five year ago and laughing out loud at the lines on the page. “It just felt like a show where the humor was so aligned with my own sense of humor that I knew that I had to direct it,” Clementz said.
Cut to last season when Clementz directed Irving Berlin’s I Love a Piano in the Stackner. Mark Clements, The Rep’s artistic director, approached him about directing another show where the actors also play the piano. As soon as Clementz heard it was going to be Murder for Two, he jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s a comedy first and foremost that really just sucks you in,” Clementz said. “It’s easy to just sit in awe at the amount of work these two actors are doing on stage.”
This will be Clementz’ fifth time directing a show on the Stackner stage. He described The Rep as his artistic home after spending five years with the company as literary assistant and as artistic associate: casting director and director of the emerging professional residency.
Clementz explained that the timing for him to direct Murder For Two couldn’t feel more full circle as Joe Hanreddy, the former artistic director, is directing Holmes and Watson; Mark Clements, current artistic director, is directing A Christmas Carol;and May Adrales, who Clementz assistant directed his first show with, just finished directing The Who and the What.
“There’s a community here that has been my family,” Clementz said. “Getting to work here at the same time as all these people from my past is really fun.”
Murder for Two runs at the Stackner Cabaret Nov. 10 – Jan. 14. For tickets, visit milwaukeerep.com or call the box office at 414-224-9490.