‘A Killer Party’ Review: The Case of the Online Musical


I used to have excessive requirements for brand spanking new musicals. Relevance, craft and a cause for being had been traits I appeared for however typically discovered missing. Now that we’re in lockdown, I’m simply comfortable to see proficient folks engaged on something that doesn’t actively make me want they weren’t.

That’s a low bar, however by not aiming a lot increased “A Killer Party: A Murder Mystery Musical” handily clears it. The first three of its 9 quick episodes, now accessible to buy on demand with the relaxation arriving quickly, present it to be cheerful and slapdash and foolish sufficient to compensate for an virtually whole lack of coherence.

But perhaps the lack of coherence is what makes it so cheerful. Online pandemic thriller theater — amazingly, there’s already one other instance, in Andrew Barth Feldman’s “Broadway Whodunit” — is an unlikely medium with no best-practices guidebook but. Any new musical extra formidable than this goofy lark that includes jaunty tunes and interesting Broadway performers like Laura Osnes and Alex Newell would seemingly sink directly.

Which is a pleasant approach of saying that the e-book, by Kait Kerrigan and Rachel Axler, shouldn’t be the star right here. A spoof of backstage comedies and Agatha Christie-style mysteries, it largely exists, like an aluminum Christmas tree, as a approach of displaying a number of wacky ornaments as rapidly and cheaply (and safely) as potential.

Or perhaps you’d enjoy knowing that Newell plays Shea Crescendo, who despite being a production designer plays the role of the acrobat Rosetta Stone. I do not know what Rosetta — or Shea, or Newell — is dressed as, but it involves feathers.

I hope and believe this is meant to be impenetrable, because there are still four other characters seated virtually at the dinner table, each at least as confusing. I won’t offer a complete flow chart, but they are Lily Wright, “the new leading lady” (Krystina Alabado); Clark Staples, the stage manager (Miguel Cervantes); Cameron Mitchelljohn, a perpetual chorus boy (Drew Gehling); and George Murderer — yes Murderer — the troupe’s leading man (Jarrod Spector).

It’s a lot to push through in the seven-minute first episode, and that’s not even counting Carolee Carmello, in a framing device, as a Duluth detective writing her memoirs years later. Those memoirs are the musical we’re watching; apparently, she needed an editor.

But in the next two episodes, with the spinach largely out of the way, we get some dessert. Immediately as the second installment begins we are introduced to Justine Case, the younger version of Carmello’s character, who has been taken off meter maid duty to investigate the murder. Singing a more-or-less traditional “I Want” number — called “Today’s Detective” and built on the apt phrase “my own ticket outta here” — Justine (Jessica Keenan Wynn) springs to life, and “A Killer Party” begins to feel like a real musical.

The songs (to be released as a cast album on Aug. 21) help a great deal throughout. With their peppy, synth-filled pop (by Jason Howland) and smart, hooky lyrics (by Nathan Tysen), they impose order on the wayward plot by forcing at least some moments into familiar boxes. The forms — not just the “I Want” song but the charm song, the predicament song, the title song and others — deliver emotional information that rings true even if the situations do not.



Source link Nytimes.com

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