Murder for Two
Below is an interview with the cast of Globus Theatre’s production of Murder for Two. Matt Pilipiak and Victor Pokinko tell us what it’s like to perform in a two-hander murder mystery whodunit musical where one actor plays an eager police officer and the other actor plays The Suspects. All of the suspects. Often at the same time and interacting with one another: a loopy widow, a lonely psychiatrist, a bickering old husband and wife, a crazed ballerina, an overeager grad student, a surprise firefighter, and a twelve-members boys choir. Oh and also cameo appearances as Marcus’ former lover, as the chief of police, and, of course, as a dead body.
Born and raised in Saskatoon, Matt Pilipiak is a Toronto-based actor, producer, and theatre creator. He is a graduate of George Brown's classical acting conservatory and is currently the Co-Artistic Producer of Bad Hats Theatre, an independent theatre company in Toronto best known for its award-winning production of Peter Pan. You may recognize Matt from Three Men in a Boat (Pea Green Theatre) which was a part of the 2015 season at Globus Theatre. Other credits include: Boys, Girls and Other Mythological Creatures (Carousel Players), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Humber River Shakespeare), War of the Roses: A Game of Kings (Theatre Aquarius) and The Wedding Singer (Hart House Theatre). Infinite thanks to Chris Tsujiuchi for the piano lessons. For more info on Bad Hats Theatre, check out our website www.badhatstheatre.com.
Originally from Ottawa ON, Victor is an actor, producer, theatre-creator, and music-man. He has entertained audiences on stages ranging from parks to museums, from stone amphitheatres to the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India. He is best known to Bobcaygeon audiences for his work in Pea Green Theatre's critically-acclaimed Three Men in a Boat, which played at Globus in 2015 and still tours to this day. Other selected credits include Peter Pan (Bad Hats Theatre/Soulpepper Theatre), Princess Frownsalot (Bad Hats theatre), Three Men on a Bike, Clique Claque (Pea Green Theatre), Romeo and Juliet Chainsaw Massacre (Bain & Bernard), The Princess Knight, Munsch Mash (Solar Stage), Gorboduc (Shakespeare BASH’d), Out of the Lens (Theatre 20/Musical Works). Victor is also an Artistic Producer for Bad Hats Theatre and the Creative Producer for Bad New Days as well as The Cave Collective. He shares Dora Mavor Moore awards with the Ensemble and Production of Peter Pan.
Trained at the University of Windsor James has been a professional actor in theatre, film and television for over 20 years. James has co-written, co-produced and starred in ‘MINE’ and ‘Jackpot!’ which toured across Canada to great acclaim. Other theatre credits include; ‘Chains of Justice’(The Stage Co.), ‘Biloxi Blues’(PersephoneTheatre), ‘Written, Directed, Starring’ (Toronto Fringe), ‘Bordertown Café’ and ‘Peggy Grace’ (Kawartha SummerTheatre) and ‘Peggy and Grace’ again (The Red BarnTheatre.) With Globus James has performed in ‘Blithe Spirit’, ‘The Foursome’, ‘Home to Roost’, ‘Here on the Flight Path’, ‘The MotorTrade’, ‘Art’, ‘It HadTo BeYou’, ‘Storm Warning’, ‘I Ought to be in Pictures’, ‘Having Relations’, ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, ‘Sunshine Express’, ‘The Love List’, ‘The Secret Lives of Henry & Alice’, ‘Looking’, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, ‘Sexy Laundry’, ‘Making a Move’, ‘NoTell Motel’, ‘Buying the Moose’ ‘Funny Farmers’, ‘Real Estate’ and ‘Raising the Barn’ He has directed ‘DoYouTakeThis Man?’, ‘Fanny Hill’, ‘April in Paris’, ‘Billy Bishop Goes to War’, ‘B4 & After’, ‘Trying’, ‘Soccer Moms’, ‘Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe’, ‘Educating Rita’, ‘Kitchen Witches’, ‘Talking Heads’, ‘Knickers! A Brief Comedy’, ‘The Woman In Black’, ‘Glorious!’, ‘The 39 Steps’, ‘Harvest’, ‘Til it Hurts’, ‘The Men Commandments’, ‘The Mysterious Mr. Love’, ‘Shirley Valentine’ ‘Stones in his Pockets’ and ‘Halfway There’. James’ television credits include ‘MissingTreasures’, ‘Top Cops’, ‘Codename Eternity’, ‘Amazon’, ‘D.C.’, ‘Twice in a Lifetime’, and ‘The Eleventh Hour’. Film credits include ‘Welcome to Mooseport’ and ‘Knockaround Guys’.
Murder For Two Cast Interview
What was your first read like of this musical?
MP: An overwhelming amount of laughter. Like struggling to get through lines because I was cracking up so much. There is this irreverent silliness to the entire piece that is just contagious. It's quite brilliant, actually, in how these writers have put this show together. It's just joke after joke after joke, and yet somehow you still end up caring for these characters. All of them. Which is just one played by me and many played by Victor.
What was the most exciting part of performing Murder for Two?
VP: It’s so magnificently complex and such a whirlwind of a piece that it’s easy to forget how much actually happens each time you perform it. We would come to sections of the show and I would think “Oh yeah, we get to do this bit!” or “oh no, how will we ever make it through the next section?”. It’s like it kept sneaking up on us and surprising us just as it surprised the audience every night. And there were parts where we legitimately got to make each other laugh, play the audience against one another. It was really fun!
Had you worked together before?
MP: I have worked with Victor more than any other actor, actually! We had the great fortune of meeting during the fringe show Three Men in a Boat (which played at Globus in 2015) and have kind of been inseparable ever since. We run Bad Hats Theatre together as Artistic Producers and have been touring Three Men in a Boat for quite some time now, in addition to many other projects. Having such a familiarity and rapport with Victor, I think really elevates Murder for Two to something truly special. You can see our actual relationship peppered-in so much throughout the whole piece.
What was it like to learn 150 pages of difficult piano in two weeks?
MP: I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the scariest things I've ever done in my whole life. Victor comes from a classical training background whereas I come from a taught myself background. This music is really intricate and difficult. When I first saw the score I thought, "well, I'm going to have to drop out of this show now because I can't play this". But with a lot of piano lessons to brush up my skills and an insane amount of dedication and work we succeeded. Although I did keep the full score under the lid of the piano for the first half of the run because I was convinced I was going to forget how to play something, need to stop the show, and retrieve my sheet music. Of course, that never happened!
This was a real hit at Globus Theatre in 2018 and I’m sure it would be a hit wherever this production went. How would you describe the show to those who haven’t seen Globus Theatre’s production of Murder for Two?
VP: It’s one of those shows where you enter and see just a piano in the middle of the stage and think “this can’t possibly work”. And somewhere between the inventive in-the-round staging (spoiler, there are no props, there is no set) and the streams of sweat pouring off our faces and whipping into the audience as we switch characters, you buy in and can’t stop laughing. And audiences really bought in. And they really couldn’t stop laughing. It’s silly and fun and it shows just how exceptionally inventive theatre can be.
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