AUBURN — When "Murder for Two" comes to the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Owasco Wednesday, it'll be Anthony Norman's first time performing the two-person show.
But his partner, show veteran Noel Carey, is confident it won't be Norman's last.
"It takes such an odd, specific set of skills to cast people in this show," Carey said. "So once you're in it, theaters reach out to people who have done it before."
The fourth show in the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival's 60th anniversary season will see Norman portray Marcus Moscowicz, a small-town policeman who dreams of becoming a detective. When he finds himself at a surprise birthday party whose guest of honor is murdered, Moscowicz sees an opportunity to prove his skills by identifying the culprit before an actual detective arrives.
Carey, meanwhile, portrays the other characters in the show — all 13 of them.
Carey portrayed Moscowicz in the first national tour of Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian's show, which was first performed in May 2011. Jumping from the one role to 13 has been a challenge, Carey said, but he's found help switching from one to another in the form of the show's pacing. Because the clock is ticking on Moscowicz's case, he continued, he has momentum as he makes those switches.
"You have to land in the character so the audience can recognize them immediately," he said.
Norman's challenge is not only creating 13 unique relationships with each character, but doing so while he plays the piano. He accompanies the musical on its only instrument, in character all the while.
Those relationships will yield enough clues for savvy audience members to solve the mystery before it's revealed, Carey said. But the show's comedy can get in the way of their case.
"It's almost a harder mystery to solve because we're putting so much comedy on top of it and you have to listen between the laughter," he said.
"It's very smart and very silly at the same time," Carey continued. "And as silly and wacky as it is, there's a real mystery to be solved here, and there's a real twist at the end."