The last episode of Only Murders in the Building on Tuesday marked the conclusion of a season that paid homage to Broadway musicals, mostly characterized by a comical nature.
In Season 3 of the Hulu comedy series “Only Murders in the Building,” this musical served as the series’ focal point, transporting Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short from their opulent apartment complex to a grand Broadway stage. (The lavish United Palace in Washington Heights serves as a stand-in for a venue located more than a hundred blocks south.) Even if “Death Rattle Dazzle” hardly resembled a legitimate Broadway musical, its creators clearly had a passion for the art form. The season is like a passionate love letter to Broadway, except this one will be written with lipstick and blood.
On Tuesday, “Only Murders in the Building” concluded a season that was a tribute to Broadway musicals, and although it was sometimes ridiculous, it was ultimately a success.
A hit on Broadway is always appreciated. A Broadway flop like “Carrie,” “Diana, the Musical,” or “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” can really be something we look forward to. Oliver Putnam’s “Death Rattle Dazzle,” a misbegotten gothic about murdering newborns re-conceived as a dazzling musical, was one of the few plays to have such a catastrophic impact. “Ruthless”-like story set in a Nova Scotia lighthouse with a younger protagonist.
Ben Glenroy, played by Paul Rudd, was shot and died on the first night of the play. Twice. Two times: the first with rat poison, the second down an elevator shaft. Even in the theater, violence exists. A successful performance “kills,” “slays,” or “knocks them dead.” But this went a little too far.
Several members of the cast and crew were suspected of his murder during rehearsals for the musical adaptation of the original play. Meanwhile, there were gags about using accents lightly and other inside jokes about superstitions, spike tape, stage anxiety, and Schmackary’s Cookies. Meryl Streep was the target of the accent jokes. Even Matthew Broderick was there to have a go at the technique.
This notebook will reveal some key details about the Season 3 conclusion of “Only Murders in the Building.”
The killers were exposed in the season finale, which aired on Tuesday (spoilers ahead, so many). Donna DeMeo (Linda Emond), the show’s super producer, poisoned Ben to save her son Cliff’s financial stake in the production. Then, to protect his mother and his pride, her son (Wesley Taylor) shoved a now-alive Ben into an elevator shaft.
Despite having a stellar lineup of Broadway songwriters (Justin Paul, Benj Pasek, Marc Shaiman, Michael R. Jackson, and Sara Bareilles) behind the music for this season, it seldom seemed like a reflection of what truly goes down on the Great White Way. Even by the wildly varying standards of Broadway, “Death Rattle Dazzle” was much too silly and glitzy. The most absurd of the presented fictions, aside from the dancing crab people, was probably the notion that murder could result from a single unfavorable review, as expressed here by the critic Maxine (Noma Dumezweni, deadpan and delightful).
However, the ridiculous dedication to one’s role that staging a musical necessitates did seem genuine. Even musicals that avoid the usual clichés (such as infants and seafood) tend to be a little absurd. Unless you’re at a theater camp, people don’t usually burst out in song, and when they do, it’s usually not accompanied by a full orchestra or a chorus that happens to be singing in harmony and doing the odd pas de bourrée. It’s absurd to believe that a few lights, some glitzy costumes, and a set made out of basically plywood will convince an audience that they’ve been transported to another planet.
However, it ends up being the case. Because of this, we may enjoy and have enjoyed long-running musicals based on topics as diverse as cats, witch trainees, and the animals of the African savanna. Those who dwell in crabs should feel quite at ease here.
A pop-up event called “Only Murders” was being held in the United Palace a few weeks ago, so I rode the train up there. Guests walked the verdant grounds, combing through evidence with high-powered torches. This season of the podcast-based TV program “Only Murders” focused on a production on Broadway. This was like a gallery show crossed with an escape room, a live-action watch party, a Botoxed and Bejeweled performance, and a live-action scavenger hunt. It seemed like a lot of fun to have your cosmetics done as well. On your way out, they handed you a puzzle.
The highlight for me personally was a lull in the action when I was able to sit in the orchestra and gaze up at the stage. From that cushy perch, I could daydream about past and future performances of amazing, crazy, and deranged acts.