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Actor a 'quadruple threat' in musical mystery

Actor a 'quadruple threat' in musical mystery

“Murder for Two,” part musical and part murder mystery, is opening at Cap Rep..
Actor a 'quadruple threat' in musical mystery
Ian Low and Kyle Branzel are in "Murder for Two" at Capital Reperatory Theatre. (JIM COX)

American musical theater will continue to celebrate its talented “triple threats,” but in the years ahead many Broadway producers may start looking for performers with yet another skill. Perhaps playing the piano.

Yes, if you excel at acting, singing and dancing you’re probably going to find a lot of work, but Kyle Branzel, performing at Capital Repertory Theater this month in “Murder for Two,” can take things a step further.

“Sometimes you have to be something of a quadruple threat,” said Branzel, a native of Elyria, Ohio, and a 2013 graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

“I would be very happy to do a straight play, but musical theater is my first love and the piano is such a big part of my life. I always thought I wanted to be a music director in high school. Now I’m focusing on acting, but in this play you have to be an actor who plays the piano.”

‘Murder for Two’

WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl St., Albany

WHEN: Previews begin Friday, opens Tuesday and runs through Aug. 9. Show times 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; check website for special matinees

HOW MUCH: $55-$20

MORE INFO: 445-7469, www.capitalrep.org

“Murder for Two,” part musical and part murder mystery, was written by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair. It was workshopped in Glens Falls at the Adirondack Theatre Festival in 2010, and had its world premiere at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in May of 2011. The show’s New York production earned rave reviews by New York Times critic Charles Isherwood, who called it “an ingenious miniature musical in the form of a snazzy vaudevillian act.”

It is not being produced by Capital Rep, but is instead in the middle of a national tour with four different actors taking turns at the two roles.

Branzel plays all the suspects in the story, and his partner on the Cap Rep stage is Brandon Lambert, who plays Detective Marcus. Lambert will be replaced by Ian Lowe for the final two weeks of the run. Both characters play the piano.

“I was still going to college, but when I first saw the show in Chicago I immediately started thinking, ‘I have to find a way to get into this show,’ ” remembered Branzel.

“It’s a show with something for everyone. It’s a laugh riot the whole way through, and I think audiences who come to the theater a lot will love the classic musical references to vaudeville, Agatha Christie and all the mystery-solving, and all the sophisticated humor. Younger audiences will love the hilarious jokes. It kind of plays like ‘Family Guy,’ with all the quick non sequiturs. It’s that kind of humor, so you never know what’s coming.”

Branzel began working with the show as an understudy in December and took over his leading role in February.

“This show is booked into 2016, and then it will be back to New York and more auditions,” he said. “I call New York my home but technically I don’t have my own place. I’ve been staying with a friend. It’s all been fun, and I love all kinds of performing. Like everyone else I’d like to get a movie or a TV show because that’s where the bigger paychecks are, but I do love the theater.”

‘Clever Little Lies’

WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham

WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Aug. 1; show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $24

MORE INFO: 877-7529, www.curtaincalltheatre.com

In Latham, Jen Cullen, Chris Foster, Evans Jones and Christine Loffredo star in the Curtain Call Theatre production of “Clever Little Lies,” by Tony Award-winning playwright Joe DiPietro.

Directed by Patrick White, the show centers on a woman dealing with marriage issues, including an uninterested and distracted husband. It will run through Aug. 1.

Marlo Thomas starred in the show’s world premiere in November of 2013 at the Georgia Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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