FISH CREEK, Wis. (WFRV) – Peninsula Players Theatre will close its 87th season with a six-week run of the musical whodunit “Murder for Two” in the company’s Theatre in a Garden. Info here.

Performances Sept. 7 to Oct. 16 are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays, except for 2 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 11, 18, 25 and Oct. 16.

According a press release: The comical show was created by Kellen Blair (book and lyrics) and Joe Kinosian (book and music).

Melanie Keller directs David Corlew and Kirsten Salpini through 13 characters, with piano. Music director is Malcolm Ruhl.

Snapshot: Officer Marcus Moscowitz seizes his moment when famous novelist Arthur Whitney is murdered at his birthday party, and all the detectives are out of town.

Marcus jumps at the chance to prove his sleuthing skills by interviewing the extravagant and outlandish suspects in an attempt to solve the crime before the real detectives arrive. The 90-minute musical is an homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries.

Creators Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair met at a BMI workshop for musical theater composers. The two are fans of 1930s screwball comedies They retreated to Kinosian’s family home in Door County to create a full book musical that only needed two actors and a piano under the premise “what if the Marx Brothers did an Agatha Christie story?”

“Murder for Two” won the 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award (Chicago) for Best New Work.  

Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair were recently nominated for the same award for their latest work, “It Came from Outer Space,” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater with Universal Theatrical Group.

“I wanted it (the musical) to have a ‘neo-vaudeville’ feel,” Kinosian said in an interview. “‘Murder for Two’ is designed to be a rip-roaring good time: a lot of laughs, a lot of goofiness and some truth in it as well.”

The tour-de-force four-hand duet by Harpo Marx and Chico Marx in the 1941 film “The Big Store” highly influenced Kinosian and Blair. The result was a 90-minute musical romp with no intermission.

The focused use of the piano throughout the musical requires the two-person cast, David Corlew and Kirsten Salpini, to be both musicians and actors.  

Corlew (“Ripcord”) is a multi-instrumentalist, actor and a former duo trapeze porter. His performance in Door County will be his third reprisal of the musical, and his first time portraying Officer Moscowicz. Corlew’s work has been seen at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee and the Actors Theatre of Indiana.

Salpini, who makes her Peninsula Players Theatre debut as The Suspects, is a singer, songwriter, music director, actor and a dueling pianist with the Flying Ivories. She has performed worldwide with theater companies and cruise lines such as Holland America and Carnival. Her regional credits include “The Donkey Show” at American Repertory Theater and “Murder for Two” at Lyric Stage Company of Boston (Independent Reviewers of New England, or IRNE, nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Musical).

Keller and Ruhl are Peninsula Players Theatre veterans. 

Keller, who performed in the theater’s past productions of “Salvage” and “The Fox on the Fairway,” is making makes her Door County directorial debut. As the Associate Artistic Director of First Folio Theatre, Keller directed “Mary’s Wedding” and “Silent Sky” and acted in more than 10 productions. At Oak Park Festival Theatre, she directed “The Amish Project” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” With Signal Ensemble Theatre, she directed the Joseph Jefferson-nominated “The Drowning Girls.”

Ruhl, who was the music director and pianist of Peninsula Players Theatre’s 2014 production of “Always…Patsy Cline,” is the recipient of two Joseph Jefferson awards. He has served as music director for productions at Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Northlight Theatre, American Blues Theater, Drury Lane Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, American Theater Company, Mercury Theater Chicago, Apollo Theater Chicago and Apple Tree Theatre.

The creative team for “Murder for Two” includes scenic designer Jeffrey D. Kmiec, a three-time Joseph Jefferson award-winning designer, whose earlier work at the theater consists of “Ghost The Musical” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Stephen Roy White, a Joseph Jefferson nominated lighting designer, whose 50-plus productions at the theater-in-a-garden include productions of “Talley’s Folly,” “Romance in D” and “Silent Sky.”

Rounding out the team are Uriel Gómez, costume designer, and Joseph Palermo, sound designer, both of whom make their Door County debuts. Gómez, an artistic associate at Teatro Vista and a Joseph Jefferson-nominated costume designer, is an Alliance of Latinx Theater Artists of Chicago Award recipient. Palermo, the resident sound designer at The Cape Playhouse, is in his seventh season of collaborating on “The Polar Express” with Warner Brothers and Amtrak.

The audience pavilion’s side panels, doors and vents will remain open throughout the autumn. Patrons should dress for the weather and be prepared for shifting temperatures and breezes off the bay. For the most current safety protocols employed at the theater, see peninsulaplayers.com.

Peninsula Players Theatre is “America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and Door County’s theatrical icon.”