Protocol Says! Jeff Blumenkrantz and Brett Ryback Act as Suspects, Detective and Accompanists in Murder for Two
21 Nov 2013
Jeff Blumenkrantz and Brett Ryback
Photo by Joan Marcus
In Murder for Two, the Off-Broadway whodunit musical by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, Jeff Blumenkrantz plays just under a dozen characters, Brett Ryback (as up-and-coming detective Marcus) attempts to uncover a murder, and the two accompany each other on piano — all in a mere 90 minutes.
Where — in a musical that not only requires its actors to memorize a script and staging, but also its complex piano part — did the dynamic duo begin? "With the score," said Ryback — confidently — in his dressing room at New World Stages, Murder for Two's current home.
Blumenkrantz interjected: "With a panic!"
With Murder for Two — the new work featuring music by Kinosian, lyrics by Blair and a book by both, which was given its New York premiere this summer as part of Second Stage Theatre's 2013 Uptown Series — the creative team set out to find two multi-talented actor-musicians who had the ability to split their brains into "performer" and "accompanist," yet simultaneously deliver cohesive performances.
"I think there's a certain 'internalization' that Jeff and I both have about music, and that was one of the hurdles that we had to get over — to internalize this music," explained Ryback, who, along with his co-star, are not only performers, but also musicians, composers and writers. "It's different when you sit down and open up a book and play for somebody else, but when you have to kind of create it — in the moment — it becomes a bit of a different animal."
"We share a similar aesthetic for what we like to see and do on stage… I never told you this," Blumenkrantz said to Ryback, "but people — when we were rehearsing in the beginning — would ask, 'How do you like your co-star?' And, I said, 'I love him. The worst thing I could say about him is that he will shut down a process for something he believes in,' which is actually a compliment."
Ryback, with a smile, responded, "I just said that I thought he was very funny!"
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