Have you ever wondered what would happen if the Marx brothers performed a murder mystery piece by Agatha Christie? It’s an interesting thought to say the least. Probably something as twisted, campy and hilarious as the movie Clue would come to mind, or perhaps for you theatre lovers (which of course there are many of you reading this blog) something as thrilling, clever, and spoofy as the play The 39 Steps. What if we said the Marx brothers not only performed an Agatha Christie work, but did so in the style of a musical? No doubt you would exclaim “where has this brilliant, toe-tapping, laugh-inducing piece of entertainment been my whole life?!” Well it’s been percolating in the minds of creators Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair who in 2011 brought their idea of a musical Marx brothers Agatha Christie mash up to life in the form of Murder for Two. In this hit musical comedy two actors play all the characters, including the comically kooky list of 13 suspects, and manage to not only sing a repertoire of quite catchy songs, but play the piano live on stage at the same time! Not surprisingly when it premiered in New York at Second Stage Theatre’s uptown home, the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, in July, 2013 no one was saying ‘close, but no cigar’. It was more than cigar-worthy in the eyes of reviewers and audiences. In honor of its upcoming run here at LWT we’re creating some of our own funny mash ups of classic Marx brothers and Agatha Christie films. What do think? Can you come up with any good ones?
Monkey Business on the Orient Express
In 1935, on a train bound for London from Istanbul, the Marx brothers get up to their usual antics and manage to annoy just about everyone on board, but when the train is stopped by deep snow, fellow passenger, detective Hercule Poirot, is called on to solve a murder that occurred in his car the night before. Are the notoriously mischievous brothers’ impediments to the detective’s investigation simply for fun, or are they the criminal culprits hiding in plain sight
2. Ten Little Indians Meets The Cocoanuts
Ten Little Cocoanuts
During the Florida land boom, the Marx brothers are running a hotel, auctioning off some land, and generally acting like themselves. When 10 people are invited to the isolated Marx hotel by a mysterious stranger for the weekend and begin to be killed off one by one they soon become suspicious of each other as well as the hotel’s proprietors. The brothers have to jump in to action to thwart the killer in a way only they can before they are locked up for murder or, worse, become his next victims.
3. Duck Soup Meets Death on the Nile
Duck Soup on the Nile
Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and his first decision is, of course, to declare war on neighboring Sylvania. To keep his new state and war afloat, Firefly needs the money of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale’s husband. To secure his funding he decides to woo Mrs. Teasdale secretly and takes her on a luxurious cruise down the Nile. Unbeknownst to Firefly his own travel entourage now includes clumsy, traitorous spies Chicolini and Pinky, who are both tasked with assassinating the dictator, but can’t quite seem to get it right. Even more worrisome may be the fact Mrs. Teasdale’s husband is on board in disguise and not too happy with Firefly either. Detective Hercule Poirot soon picks up on the ill-intentioned hijinks of his fellow passengers. When Mrs. Teasdale is murdered on board he is tasked with figuring out whether it was love, jealousy, greed, or just another failed assassination attempt that did her in. Can Poirot decipher the real killer from the jokesters before the ship reaches the end of its journey?