Joe Kinosian never met an old movie he didn't love -- especially the Marx Brothers and their screwball wordplay and physical zaniness.
He brings that to life in "Murder for Two," the musical-comedy whodunit that he co-wrote and stars in at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, Oct. 17-Nov. 11.
"My late grandma was a huge fan of old movies, and I watched them with her. We were kindred spirits," Kinosian said recently during a break from rehearsals. "The Marx Brothers have always appealed to me with their broad 'anything for a laugh' approach."
A veteran of more than 700 performances, Kinosian plays all of the suspects in the murder-mystery spoof, and will be joined by Martin Landry as the detective.
"The show is like the '40s but with cellphones," he said. "It's a great workout if the audience is game -- just 90 minutes of running around and shouting your head off."
Kinosian has played the role in a two-year tour of America, as well as in productions in Korea, Japan, England and China.
MRT Artistic Director Sean Daniels invited him to bring the show to MRT several years ago, and both are delighted they have finally made it happen.
"I met Sean through his wife, Veronika Duerr, who was a friend of mine in college," Kinosian said. "I have wanted to do the show in Massachusetts because I love the state and am so excited to bring it here."
Kinosian and Landry play the piano throughout the production, and in a new twist, the piano and actors will spin on a turntable.
"We want people to see our hands playing the piano, and I want to assure people we really are playing," Kinosian said.
The show is an homage to everything from Agatha Christie to "Murder, She Wrote" to the board game Clue, with tributes to vaudeville and, of course, The Marx Brothers.
"It's a hoot and so much fun. I get a workout each night," Kinosian said.
For tickets, visit www.mrt.org or call the box office at 978-654-4678.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the marquee
LOCAL TIES: John-Michael Breen of Chelmsford is part of the national tour of "Rock of Ages" coming to the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston, Oct. 23-28. He started performing when he was 8, and when he was 12, he was cast to appear as the young boy in "Nine" at North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly. During high school, he performed with the Peacock Players and Actorsingers of Nashua. After graduating Chelmsford High School in 2010, he attended Point Park University in Pittsburgh, where he earned a BFA in musical theater in 2014. He has worked consistently ever since at NSMT, on Nantucket, in Kentucky and at the Winnepesaukee Playhouse in Meredith, N.H., and Seacoast Rep in Portsmouth, N.H. He'll play Lonnie in "Rock of Ages." For tickets, visit https://theater-boston.com/wang.
ON STAGE IN DUNSTABLE: "Songs for a New World" by Jason Robert Brown takes center stage at Dunstable Town Hall, 511 Main St., later this month. Presented by the Dunstable Theater Collaborative, the show is "about one moment," Brown says. "It's about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, take a stand or turn around and go back." Featuring a score that blends elements of pop, gospel and jazz, it takes the audience from the deck of a Spanish sailing ship bound for a new land to the ledge of a New York penthouse. The small cast, playing several characters each, includes Mel Bisso, Monica Whitlock, Jon Swift and Jared Walsh. Christina Chadzynski directs, and Valerie Kosick is musical director. Performances are Oct. 19-20 and Oct. 26-27, at 7:30 p.m., and a matinee Sunday, Oct. 21, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12, general; $10, students/seniors at www.dunstabletheater.org.
LOTS OF HONEY: Peacock Players present "Winnie the Pooh Kids," Oct. 12-21 at the Janice B. Streeter Theatre, 14 Court Street, Nashua, N.H. The show is based on the adventures of the beloved A.A. Milne characters -- Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga and Roo -- that came to life in the 2011 Disney animated film. Featured are favorite songs from the movie, plus new hits created for the stage. Showtimes are Fridays, Oct. 12- 19, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, Oct. 13-20, 10 a.m.; and Sundays, Oct. 14- 21, 2 p.m. Visit www.peacockplayers.org for tickets.